I post the below letter from Paul McCartney to Vladimir Putin simply to give it more publicity. Paul McCartney is trying to help a few people. You don't have to love Greenpeace or anything like that to respect an artist who stands up for someone else when he has absolutely no need to do so. Paul is doing the same thing that people did in the 1960s that people speak so glowingly and fondly of now, in retrospect at least. I'm sure John Lennon is applauding somewhere.
In brief, 30 international Greenpeace activists were arrested in September for protesting against Russian oil drilling in the Arctic and now face up to 7 years in prison on charges of "hooliganism." Their Dutch-registered ship was impounded. It is the general understanding that the activists simply boarded the ship and then waited for a Russian SWAT team inevitably to arrest them, without offering resistance. There was no property damage worth mentioning. As I said, this is the general understanding, perhaps there are other facts not known to us.
This really is not a political issue unless you are bound and determined to make it into one. Paul is on the Left side of the scale, for sure, but this is just a Humanitarian plea. Everyone will make their own assessment of such things, I'm just providing a little information.
At the time of this writing, the experts within Russia are betting that Paul's attempt to reach across lines here will be unsuccessful. It is highly unusual for such a high-profile figure to attempt to intervene in a matter such as this. That is not meant to diminish the direct efforts of other celebrities, such as "Xena" star Lucy Lawless, who support Greenpeace. However, they are acting politically, whereas Paul is acting in a purely humanitarian posture. That is a key distinction. As said, this is not really about Greenpeace unless you want to make it so.
Below is the entire posting from Paul's site. You may see the original here on Paul's own website as well.
Greetings from Japan.
Check out my letter below to President Vladimir Putin which he has not replied to as yet. The Russian Ambassador kindly responded saying that their situation ‘is not properly represented in the world media’.
It would be great if this misunderstanding could be resolved and the protesters can be home with their families in time for Christmas. We live in hope.
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.