A number of Russian celebrities and journalists have asked President Vladimir Putin to release the crew of Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise icebreaker, who were detained in September after their attempt to board a Russian oil drilling rig in the Polar region.
Russian writers Zakhar Prilepin and Lev Rubinshtein, musician Andrey Makarevich, joined several other actors and journalists in signing an open letter to the Russian president. The letter was sent to the Kremlin earlier this week and published on the Greenpeace website on November 5.
The idea of such a message appeared some time ago, according to Greenpeace.
“Many celebrities kept on offering their help to us. About a week ago the message was written, under which signatures were collected,” the Greenpeace press service said in a statement.
The letter urged Putin to release that the crew of the ship, which includes a doctor, a cook, a photographer and a videographer from several different counties, because they are victims of a misunderstanding. The letter emphasizes that the protest was aimed at protecting the nature of the Arctic against possible pollution resulting from oil field development.
“It is sad to observe that only the Russian part of the Arctic is currently open to multiple foreign corporations, while other countries, such as Norway, refuse new oil production projects. Russia is one of the main countries in the Arctic region, and therefore can become the key to its salvation.”
The activists have been have been held in a detention facility in Murmansk for almost two months as they await their trail.
The letter stated also that the detention of the environmentalists could have a negative effect on the Russia’s image, especially as detainees are not only Russian citizens, but also citizens of Canada, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, Finland, Ukraine, Netherlands, Switzerland, Great Britain, Poland, Denmark, Australia, France and Italy. The authors added that the legal proceedings are being carefully monitored all over the world.
Andrey Makarevich told the newspaper Moskovskiy Komsomolets said he said he signed the letter because “these people did not seize anything, they were not armed, they are neither pirates nor gangsters. It is absolutely clear what they are trying to draw to our attention through their actions, and what has to be done. If we contaminate the Arctic, life on Earth will become seriously undermined.”
He also mentioned that this was a very bad trend for innocent people to be held in prison for over a month already. “I’d like to hope that our voice will be heard,” he added.
This is the second letter of appeal written to Putin asking for the crew’s release, the first one was written by a number of Nobel prize winners. However, the president’s press secretary responded at the time that the head of the country could not resolve this issue; only a judge could make a legal decision.
According to Igor Chestin, director of the Russian office of the World Wildlife Fund, such an action as this letter to the President is undoubtedly useful. At the same time, he is sure that if the letter had been signed not by celebrities and journalists, but by businessmen or church ministers, “the issue would have made progress faster.”