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Dear President Putin, I Offer Myself for the Arctic 30

In an open letter to Vladimir Putin, the executive director of Greenpeace International makes a plea to the Russian president.
 
 
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Photo Credit: Greenpeace

 
 
 
 

Dear President Putin

Following the refusal yesterday of bail for our activists and a freelance photographer, and in response to your offer in Salekhard to engage in discussion over the fate of the Arctic,  I request an urgent meeting with you.

I would of course be willing to meet you anywhere in the world, in a place of your choosing, but I ask that if possible our meeting is held at your earliest convenience in Russia.

Unlike the world leaders with whom you are more used to convening, I would not carry with me the power and influence of a government. Instead, I would come equipped only as the representative of millions of people around the world, many of them Russian, whose fervent wish is to see an early end to the continued imprisonment of the  30 brave and peaceful men and women held in Murmansk.

Their fate is a matter of global concern. Therefore, I would come to you with an offer. I am willing to move my life to Russia for the duration of this affair. I would offer myself as a guarantor for the good conduct of the Greenpeace activists, were they to be released on bail. They, we, Greenpeace, do not believe ourselves to be above the law. We are willing to face the consequences of what we did, as long as those consequences are within a nation's criminal code as any reasonable person understands that code to be.

It is clear from your own statements that you do not regard the activists as pirates, although that is the charge levelled against them. You, in common with millions around the world, know that in being accused of piracy they are charged with a crime that did not happen, that our activists are accused of an imaginary offence. Indeed, you have previously said that you have admiration for groups like Greenpeace, and that our protests inspire sympathy in you. Were our friends to be released on bail, I offer myself as security against the promise that the 28 Greenpeace International activists will answer for their peaceful protest according to the criminal code of Russia.

The law, as we both know, does not apply the offence of piracy to the actions of peaceful protesters. I therefore ask you to use any avenues of action open to you as president of the Russian Federation to request that the excessive charges of piracy against the detainees are dropped, and that any charges brought are consistent with international and Russian law. I also respectfully ask that the two independent freelancers, who are not Greenpeace members, be immediately freed.

One day after the arrest of the activists, the  UN issued its latest warningon the threat posed to all of us, to your nation, to mine, to the world, by climate change. The findings of the report, authored by our greatest scientific minds, imply that we cannot afford to prospect for and burn new sources of fossil fuels. That is why the protesters felt compelled to make the stand they did, a stand that was both peaceful and respectful of your nation.

My own personal history as a young activist in the anti-apartheid movement has taught me that dialogue is paramount, that in the interests of finding a common understanding we must be willing to talk. I believe that my offer to come to Moscow, to meet you, and to stay there, affords us such an opportunity. This continued affair benefits nobody, including the great nation of Russia, and certainly not the families and friends of the people in prison.

 
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