Paul McCartney Writes Letter To Vladimir PutinBy: Lindsay McCane - November 14, 2013
Former “Beatles” star, Paul McCartney, said during a recent interview that he had written a letter to President Vladimir Putin to ask for the release of the Greenpeace activists that are currently being held in Russia.
Twenty-eight Greenpeace activists and two journalists have been held in Russia on charges of hooliganism that can carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. They were originally charged with piracy, but that charge was later dropped. Had they been convicted of piracy, they could have faced up to fifteen years in prison.
The group, now known as the Arctic 30, has been detained since September when they tried to climb the Prirazlomnaya oil rig. The rig is owned by Gazprom, a state controlled energy company, and is being used to tap into the Arctic’s natural resources. The detainees were moved to St. Petersburg this week, and are scheduled to appear in court on November 24.
Read McCartney’s full letter below:
14th October 2013
I hope this letter finds you well. It is now more than ten years since I played in Red Square, but I still often think about Russia and the Russian people.
I am writing to you about the 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists being held in Murmansk. I hope you will not object to me bringing up their case.
I hear from my Russian friends that the protesters are being portrayed in some quarters as being anti-Russian, that they were doing the bidding of western governments, and that they threatened the safety of the people working on that Arctic oil platform.
I am writing to assure you that the Greenpeace I know is most certainly not an anti-Russian organisation. In my experience they tend to annoy every government! And they never take money from any government or corporation anywhere in the world.
And above all else they are peaceful. In my experience, non-violence is an essential part of who they are.
I see you yourself have said that they are not pirates – well, that’s something everybody can agree on. Just as importantly, they don’t think they are above the law. They say they are willing to answer for what they actually did, so could there be a way out of this, one that benefits everybody?
Vladimir, millions of people in dozens of countries would be hugely grateful if you were to intervene to bring about an end to this affair. I understand of course that the Russian courts and the Russian Presidency are separate. Nevertheless I wonder if you may be able to use whatever influence you have to reunite the detainees with their families?
Forty-five years ago I wrote a song about Russia for the White Album, back when it wasn’t fashionable for English people to say nice things about your country. That song had one of my favourite Beatles lines in it: “Been away so long I hardly knew the place, gee it’s good to be back home.”
Could you make that come true for the Greenpeace prisoners?
I hope, when our schedules allow, we can meet up again soon in Moscow.
McCartney first met Putin when he performed in Moscow in 2003. Putin did not respond to McCartney’s letter, however he said that a Russian Ambassador did respond saying, the situation “is not properly represented in the world media.” McCartney hopes that Putin will release the Arctic 30 so that they can make it home in time for Christmas.
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