Putin proves himself a pantywaist by going soft and pappy on those trouble-makers from Greenpeace

The Grumbles were never much enthused by the Olympic Games and similar international extravaganzas, although we are apt to be more captivated when the event is the Rugby World Cup and the All Blacks emerge the winners.

Our indifferent attitude to the Olympics has been turned to serious disapproval by news from Russia about the pending Winter Olympics.

This event has prompted President Putin to become uncharacteristically liberal in his attitude to criminals of both the proven and the yet-to-be-tried variety (who strictly speaking are not guilty until proven otherwise).

Into the latter category we can place at least some and maybe all of the 30 crew members of a Greenpeace protest ship who were arrested by the Russian authorities.

But now the buggers have been set free thanks to a Kremlin-backed amnesty.

Two Pussy Riot punks, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Marina Alyokhina, who had been jailed for two years over an anti-Kremlin protest, have been set free under the amnesty, too.

Trouble is, regarding the Greenpeace lot, this means we will never learn from evidence presented fair and square to a judicial hearing whether they were guilty of the hooliganism with which they were accused.

An explanation for Putin becoming a bloody pantywaist can be found here.

The move marks the end of a three-month criminal probe against the 26 foreign and four Russian activists and comes less than two months before Moscow hosts the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

In what was widely seen as another in a series of attempts to improve Russia’s battered international image ahead of the event, Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky was also pardoned by President Vladimir Putin and flew to Germany on Friday after a decade behind bars.

And so it seems 25 foreign Greenpeace activists were summoned to the Investigative Committee to be told the hooliganism probes launched after their September protest against oil drilling in the Barents Sea had been dropped.

There was some faltering in dealing with an Italian activist, Cristian d’Alessandro, but that’s simply and understandably because of problems with the relevant paperwork.

The four Russian crew members also benefitted from the amnesty.

For those with short memories, the Greenpeace was boarded by Russian border guards and towed to Murmansk in September after several activists attempted to scale Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya oil rig.

The crew spent several weeks detained in local jails before being transferred to Saint Petersburg and released on bail.

They originally faced a charge of piracy – and Alf was seriously in favour of that decision – but then the Russians went soft and the protesters were landed with the less severe hooliganism accusation.

Similar charges should be laid against environmental protesters in this country, in many instances where the buggers disrupt lawful drilling and what-have-you.

Similar penalties should be imposed, too.

The charge of piracy was punishable by up to 15 years in prison while the lesser accusation of hooliganism carries a punishment of up to seven years.

According to the latest report to have reached the Grumbles in Eketahuna, the first Greenpeace activist was yesterday on a train out of Russia.

Dmitri Litvinov, a Swedish-American of Russian origin, left St Petersburg for Finland’s capital, Helsinki, on a train after Russia issued exit visas for 14 of the crew following a pardon by President Vladimir Putin.

Most of the activists who received visas were expected to leave Russia overnight, according to Greenpeace.

This doubtless will include New Zealanders Jon Beauchamp and David Haussmann.

Betcha they are relieved they have got off so lightly, just because Putin wants to win a gold medal for his dexterity in the political U-turn or some such event which no doubt has been incorporated in the games programme.

Alf was not surprised to learn that several Western leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, had expressed concern over the activists’ detention.

He was disappointed, however, to learn that celebrities including former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney had pressed for their release.

Serious thought is now being given to dumping all Beatles albums in the Grumbles’ music collection.

A letter will be sent to Her Majesty, too, suggesting the tosser be stripped of this knighthood.

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