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Vladimir Putin’s Run-In With Greenpeace & Paul McCartney To Be Spotlighted In BBC Documentary Series

EXCLUSIVE: Vladimir Putin’s 10-year-old battle with a group of Greenpeace protestors that attracted the attention of none other than Paul McCartney is to be spotlighted in a BBC documentary series.

Curve Media’s On Thin Ice: Putin V Greenpeace (working title) is being positioned as the BBC’s latest box-set series and will break with tradition by airing via bitesized half-hour episodes.

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The series will follow what happened when a group of climate activists on a daring mission to disrupt Russia’s Arctic oil production unwittingly sailed into a pivotal moment in Putin’s relationship with the West in 2013.

Known as the Arctic 30, the group had wanted to film a protest and discourage an international Arctic oil rush, but they were arrested and incarcerated in a brutal Russian prison. Russian security services had been monitoring their activities and word came from the very top: the protestors would be made an example of – no one would dare get in the way of Russia’s plans for oil dominance again.

The group gained the attention of The Beatles frontman, who wrote an open letter to Putin urging their release. In the letter, he referenced 1968 Beatles track “Back in the USSR” and asked for a meeting with Putin “when our schedules allow.” He had played a concert in Moscow’s Red Square in 2003.

The 28 activists and two journalists, who had been arrested under piracy and hooliganism charges, were released three months later, and subsequently their ship the Arctic Sunrise was given back.

A woman holds a Greenpeace flag and waves as Greenpeace’s Dutch-flagged Artic Sunrise ship returns to the Netherlands on August 9, 2014
A woman holds a Greenpeace flag and waves as Greenpeace’s Dutch-flagged Artic Sunrise ship returns to the Netherlands on August 9, 2014

On Thin Ice will draw on a wealth of previously unseen footage and extensive actuality filmed during and following the protest, plus cinematic reconstructions and interviews.

Sreya Biswas, the BBC’s natural history commissioning boss, said the series provides “a different way of telling a story about the natural world. “It’s a compelling environmental narrative, told in six fast-paced half-hour episodes, that’s important to hear within the current climate,” she added.

The series was commissioned by Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual. It is executive produced by Sunshine Jackson, co-series directed by Chloe Campbell (Murder in the Pacific) and Alice McMahon-Major (Three Mothers, Two Babies and a Scandal) and produced by Clare Beavis. Commissioning editor is Biswas. ITV Studios is distributing.

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