Actress Kim Basinger has written a personal letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin urging him to release 18 whales from captivity. The L.A. Confidential star was celebrating earlier this month (Aug13) after winning her campaign to block plans to export beluga whales to an aquarium in Georgia, U.S. Now she has taken her activism a step further by asking the Russian leader to free the marine mammals that were earmarked for export and are now in captivity. In the note, sent via People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Basinger writes, "I was thrilled to learn that the 18 beluga whales who were slated to be transported from the Utrish Marine Mammal Research Station to a U.S. aquarium will remain in Russia and out of my home state of Georgia. "The whales would have had a bleak life if they had been shipped to Georgia for public display... As an ardent supporter of marine life, I commend you for your efforts to preserve this magnificent species. Now that these whales will not be transferred to the U.S., I urge you to take the next step and ensure that they are returned to their rightful ocean home... "The plight of these whales has the whole world watching to see what will happen next. I urge you to help return these belugas to their families in the ocean. Will you take a strong unequivocal stand in favor of marine animals by initiating the rehabilitation-and-release process?"