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Greenpeace calls on Ayrault to press Russia for jailed activists' release

A Greenpeace activist hangs from the Eiffel Tower in a stunt in solidarity with the 30 jailed in Russia
A Greenpeace activist hangs from the Eiffel Tower in a stunt in solidarity with the 30 jailed in Russia Reuters/Christian Hartmann

Greenpeace has appealed to French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to press for the release of 30 of its members, one of them French, jailed in Russia during a two-day visit to the country that started Thursday. The 30 environmental campaigners could face seven years in jail for "hooliganism" after trying to climb onto an oil rig in September.

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"We have asked Jean-Marc Ayrault not to forget the 30 and pass the same message to the Russian authorities - the 30 must be freed," Greenpeace France director Jean-François Julliard told France-Info radio on Thursday.

One of the 30 is French national Francesco Pisanu but Julliard insisted that there was "no question of making a disctinction" between them.

Ayrault, who is to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, told Russia's Kommersant newspaper that he would be raising human rights during the tour "with frankness and respect" because "human rights are an integral part of our foreign policy".

Earlier in the week a diplomatic source told Les Echos paper that the subject would be mentioned but added, "You shouldn't expect the prime minister's visit alone to unblock a situation involving nationals of more than 10 countries."

Ayrault also told Kommersant that he was working for the success of the Geneva II talks on Syria, a subject that has divided France and Russia.

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