Dear Mr Putin
It is with a heavy heart that I am writing you this letter. As an admirer of Russian history and culture I have read most Russian classics and learned to love your country even without ever having set a foot on its territory. Throughout my life I have defended Russia against Cold-War cries; I even wear red coloured jumpers bearing the letters CCCP to show my support for your country. When on 11 September 2013 you addressed the American people in the New York Times saying that it was dangerous to claim that one nation was exceptional, I was one of those who loudly and proudly applauded for your words. Yet, only two months later you make me one of the most concerned persons on this planet and take me of my sleep.
I agree with you that democracy takes time and that each country has its own agenda. It is therefore that the world isn’t yet a better place and why climate change is increasing without our world leaders really doing anything to stop it. It should thus not surprise that many citizens all over the world whom the international community has failed to protect from further damage, try to express their dissatisfaction or call for accordant attention. The horrible consequences of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is prove enough that it’s time to sit together and solve present global challenges. As you say “we must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement”.
Instead Russia is taking the same path of military force as the US arresting peaceful citizens in international waters and placing them under charges for piracy (or now hooliganism?). That is definitely not an act of civilized settlement of an affair that concerns all of us. The Arctic and Antarctica are the two only remaining places on this planet that have so far been saved from major direct human degradation, mainly due to their remoteness. If climate change now makes these places better accessible, that doesn’t mean that we immediately have to exploit their natural resources and wreak also these highly delicate ecosystems.
Mr Putin, you are a reasonable man and you know that if only one of our fellow-environmentalists will be imprisoned for no matter what, the world will never be the same as it was before. If that happens, you will be responsible for the world to fall in total anarchy. You will prove those hardliners, who we tried to convince for the last thirty years that an international dialogue is possible, to be right and that Russia is not willing for discussions. You will wake up a monster that has been put to sleep due to the work of such excellent people as Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin. Mr Putin, totalitarianism has no room in the 21st century. We need to communicate more between nations, as you write, and we must integrate all world citizens in this dialogue.
What I ask you is to understand that the people you are currently holding under arrest where there to help leaders like you. By standing up against the worst environmental crimes, they create awareness amongst all peoples of this planet in order to facilitate the work for international leaders like you. Once the people understand the problems associated with further exploitation of natural resources it will be much easier for governments to implement accordant policies to protect the environment. The people you declare as foes of Russia are actually your and all governments around the world’s friends!
The affair around the imprisoned Greenpeace members is not about pride. It is the wrong moment and you picked the wrong scape goats to demonstrate Russia’s power. You know that you can stop all this without Russia loosing face. Please consider the situation from the perspective of more than seven billion world citizens that are looking forward to have a chance for a peaceful life over the next few decades and not one that is controlled by global terror, environmental disasters and engaged environmentalists sitting in jail because of the international community not being able to solve present challenges.
I have a way better idea for you than to lock up these people. You and I know that current environmental challenges are often too complex to be tackled by governments and authorities who simply lack the understanding and an accordant academic background. Yet, environmental NGOs who are the real experts in environmental matters are largely left out of international dialogues. Mr Putin, why doesn’t Russia free the Greenpeace members and incorporate them as scientific advisors in the climate dialogue? Russia could then take over the lead in the UNFCCC process and constructively demonstrate its power as one of the leading and most forward-looking nations on this plant. To use your words again, “it’s time that we stop thinking about any nation as exceptional” and that someone starts to distinguish themselves with exceptional work. I know that you have the greatness and the power to do it!
Thank you very much.
(This letter has been sent to the official email address of the Russian president as well as to the official twitter accounts of the Russian president and the Kremlin)