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It was the 18th of September when Greenpeace activists tried to scale the Prirazlomnava oil rig, only to be apprehended by the Coast Guard, and imprisoned on charges of piracy. The rig is the cornerstone of Russia’s drive to explore for oil and gas reserves in the Arctic.
The 28 activists and two journalists arrested have now had the charges against them reduced to ones of hooliganism, and now face a maximum sentence of seven years in jail, as opposed to the 15 years carried by charges of piracy. However, Greenpeace claims that actually the initial charges of piracy have not been dropped, effectively meaning that the group is facing both charges.
Now, in an effort to try and bring the activists home to their families in time for Christmas, Paul McCartney, a former member of the Beatles, has sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, trying to secure his support to help earn the release of the Greenpeace 30.
Related article: What Russia’s Arctic Attack on Greenpeace is Really About
Paul McCartney met President Vladimir Putin in 2003 before playing in Moscow.
McCartney posted a blog on his website on Thursday, admitting that as of yet he has not yet received a reply from Putin about the letter that he sent on the 14th of October, and restating that “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.”
Related article: Why has Russia Really Charged Greenpeace Protestors with Piracy?
Below is a copy of the letter from Paul McCartney to President Vladimir Putin:
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.
Reuters reports that Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, admitted to the state-run Itar-Tass news agency that he had only heard of the letter from the media, and that the Kremlin had not yet received it.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com