Paul McCartney has revealed that he recently reached out Russian President Vladimir Putin to ask him to help bring about the release of a group of environmental activists who are being detained in the country. Twenty-eight members of the Greenpeace environmental organization, along with two journalists, were arrested by Russia's coast guard in September while staging a protest at an Arctic oil rig belonging to Russia.
In his letter, McCartney -- a longtime Greenpeace supporter -- explains that he's heard from his "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." He assures Putin that Greenpeace is not an anti-Russian organization, they don't accept money from governments or corporations, "and above all else they are peaceful."
Macca also notes, "In my experience they tend to annoy every government!"
McCartney also maintains that the activists aren't pirates and are willing to face the legal ramifications of their actions, adding, "so could there be a way out of this, one that benefits everybody?"
The Beatles legend says that while he understands that Russia's legal system is separate from its presidency, he asks Putin if he might consider using "whatever influence you have to reunite the detainees with their families."
Sir Paul then references The Beatles' "Back in the USSR," noting that he wrote the tune "back when it wasn't fashionable for English people to say nice things about [Russia]." He points that the song features one of his favorite Beatles lines -- "Been away so long I hardly knew the place, gee it's good to be back home" then asks, "Could you make that come true for the Greenpeace prisoners?"
McCartney ends his plea by telling Putin he hopes they will be able to meet up again in Moscow, "when our schedules allow."
The rock icon reports that he sent the message on October 14 and that Putin has not replied, although Russia's ambassador did respond by noting "that their situation 'is not properly represented in the world media.'"
According to Greenpeace.org, the detainees currently are being held in St. Petersburg and have all been charged with hooliganism.
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