In his letter Sir Paul makes a lyrical appeal for the release of the 28 Greenpeace International campaigners and two freelance journalists who remain in detention in St Petersburg, facing charges of piracy and hooliganism. They were arrested eight weeks ago following a peaceful protest against Arctic oil drilling. Sir Paul, who has previously taken tea with Putin in the Kremlin , writes:
“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?”
This morning, after releasing the letter on his website  he tweeted: “...The Russian Ambassador kindly responded saying that their situation ‘is not properly represented in the world media’...”. Sir Paul then tweeted: “...It would be great if this misunderstanding could be resolved and the protesters can be home with their families in time for Christmas…” and finished by tweeting: “We live in hope. Paul McCartney”
The ex-Beatle is hugely popular in Russia - and with Vladimir Putin himself. In 2003 he performed to over 100,000 people including the President in Moscow’s Red Square . Before that concert, Sir Paul was given a personal guided tour of the Kremlin by Putin, who was reported as telling him, "You are loved here [in Russia].”  The pair are on first name terms, as Sir Paul’s letter reveals:
“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?”
The strictly private letter was written on October 14th, and Sir Paul is releasing it exactly one month later. McCartney alludes to the preposterous nature of the charges facing the Arctic 30 in light of Greenpeace’s dedication to non-violent protest. He writes:
“I am writing to assure you that the Greenpeace I know is most certainly not an anti-Russian organisation…And above all else they are peaceful. In my experience, non-violence is an essential part of who they are.”
Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International said today:
“Sir Paul’s letter is an extraordinary and beautiful plea for justice from one of the twentieth century’s most famous icons, and it went straight into the inbox of President Putin himself. We know some of the Arctic 30 are able to listen to the radio in their cells, and some of them are no doubt Beatles fans, so this news would be music to their ears. Sir Paul is hugely respected in Russia, and so we hope his letter brings the day closer when those thirty brave men and women are back with their families.”
The Arctic 30 were this week moved to St Petersburg, and the charge of piracy has not yet been officially removed, despite a promise by the authorities. Sir Paul was awarded a diploma of honorary professor at St Petersburg's Conservatoir on a visit to Russia in 2003.
Since the Arctic Sunrise was seized eight weeks ago, there has been an outpouring of support from across the world for the Arctic 30. World leaders including Brazilian President Dilma Roussef, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron have expressed their concern for the fate of the prisoners. Thirteen Nobel Peace Prize winners including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi and Lech Walesa have also spoken out.
To date, more than 2 million people have sent letters and emails calling for the release of the Arctic 30, and banners have been hung from Mount Everest to the Eiffel Tower.
The ex-Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney, is currently in Japan for two weeks on his “Out There” tour, performing to fans in Osaka, Fukuoka and Tokyo.
Greenpeace UK Press Office: +44 (0)207 865 8255
Greenpeace International press desk: +31 20 718 24 70 or firstname.lastname@example.org