Sir Paul McCartney has written a letter to Vladimir Putin in support of the 30 Greenpeace activists currently being held in Russia after being arrested for protesting against oil exploration in the Arctic in September.
“Dear Vladimir,” wrote Sir Paul. "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.
“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?”
McCartney sent the letter a month ago and still hasn’t received a reply, although the Russian Ambassador responded by saying that their situation ‘is not properly represented in the world media’.
Find out more about the plight of the Arctic 30 here.