Paul McCartney Urges Putin to Free Jailed Greenpeace Activists

Paul McCartney wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin, urging him to free Greenpeace activists arrested for protesting against Arctic oil drilling.

“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,” McCartney, who was taken on a tour of the Kremlin by the Russian leader and played before him in a 2003 concert on Red Square, said in a letter to Putin dated Oct. 14 and posted on his website today.

Russia has faced worldwide protests by the environmental group and a legal claim from the Netherlands since it detained 30 people for participating in a Greenpeace protest at an offshore oil platform in September, impounding their ship and charging them with piracy, which is punishable by as long as 15 years in prison. Prosecutors have since reduced the charges to hooliganism, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years.

“The Greenpeace I know is most certainly not an anti-Russian organisation,” McCartney wrote. “In my experience they tend to annoy every government! And above all else they are peaceful.”

Two protesters sought to scale state-run OAO Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya oil rig in the Pechora Sea on Sept. 18. A day later Russia’s Coast Guard boarded the group’s Arctic Sunrise ship in international waters and towed the vessel to the port city of Murmansk, where 28 activists as well as a photographer and a videographer were detained and charged with piracy. The Russian authorities on Nov. 11 moved the Greenpeace detainees to the country’s second largest city, St. Petersburg, easing consular access to them.

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