The appeals court of Hålogaland, Norway, has ruled to release Andrey Yakunin, the son of former Russian Railways head Vladimir Yakunin, from custody, NRK broadcasting company reports.
Andrey Yakunin was arrested on 18 October for illegal use of drones on Svalbard, but he managed to appeal the decision.
The Norway police appealed the decision to release Yakunin from custody, Verdens Gang newspaper reports.
Yakunin’s defenders insisted that the punishment measures introduced against other Russian nationals cannot be applied to his client, as he is a citizen of the UK. The attorneys also think that drones are not subject to the flight ban, as it only concerns aircraft, however, there is no clear definition of the term “aircraft” in Norwegian law. Besides, the appeal notes that the ban on Russians using drones on Svalbard violates a treaty signed by the UK, Norway, and Russia, in which it was agreed that citizens of those three states who come to the island can expect equal treatment from the side of Norway.
Earlier, the Barents Observer reported that a 47-year-old man was detained on 17 October in Hammerfest, Norway, and accused of illegal use of drones on Svalbard. The media suggested that the man in question might be Yakunin.
On 19 October, his press service confirmed to Novaya-Europe that Yakunin had been detained on Svalbard for using a drone.
Over the past month, 10 people have been detained in northern Norway (where strategic facilities are located) for suspicious activity that might be beneficial to the Russian government. On 25 October, an employee of the Arctic University was arrested in Tromsø. He allegedly had false Brazilian documents and was carrying out reconnaissance activities in favour of Russia.
On 13 October, police detained a Russian man at the land border who was trying to transport drones from Norway to Russia. On 14 October, a Norwegian court arrested four Russians for using drones to record footage near protected sites in the north of Norway. Later, they were released. On 15 October, another Russian carrying a drone was detained at the Tromsø airport. On 19 October, Norwegian police detained Andrey Yakunin, the son of ex-head of the state-owned company Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin, on Svalbard — he was also recording footage using a drone. On 24 October, it was reported that two Russians had been detained for recording footage of military objects in the north of Norway.
Furthermore, Norwegian journalists noted that the Russian Orthodox Church had acquired several properties not far away from military bases in Norway at once.