"I would like to thank you for the courageous decision to release the orcas and belugas that were living in captivity in a bay near Nakhodka," said the actress in a message delivered to Sputnik by the environmental NGO Ecovakhta Sakhalina, which is campaigning for the release of mammals.
"The transfer of animals is already under way and I want to express my gratitude for your commitment to freeing all remaining whales and preventing free beluga and several species of dolphins from being caught in Russian waters by 2020" she continued.
The February broadcast of photographs of 11 orcas and 93 beluga whales that had been present in small ponds near Nakhodka, in the Russian Far East, since the summer, triggered a wave of protests. A fishing company was fined heavily for illegally capturing and stacking killer whales.
An investigation was opened for illegal fishing and animal abuse. The release of these marine mammals was announced in mid-June during a question-and-answer session by Vladimir Putin on television. It started on June 27th.
Russian Environment Minister Dmitry Kobylkin said authorities did not plan to allow whaling in Russian waters in 2020.