Music World Stands Up for Embattled Russian Punks Pussy Riot

Above: A burka-clad Madonna talks about Pussy Riot to her Moscow audience

Rewind: Vladimir Putin: No Pussy Riot on His Watch

Free speech is a valued thing in this country. It's why journalists, writers, musicians and artists exist and are able to do what they do. However, in Russia, it seems to be under attack.

One case that has really gotten the international music world's attention is the Pussy Riot case. In March, the Russian punk band performed their song "Virgin Mary, Redeem Us of Putin" outside Moscow's main Russian Orthodox Cathedral. All three burka-clad alleged members were subsequently arrested and charged with hooliganism on grounds of religious hatred.

If convicted, the ladies face up to seven years in prison.

Musicians from across the globe have come out in full force in support of Pussy Riot, with Madonna has been at the forefront. At her concert in Moscow, she donned a burka and had "pussy riot" written on her back. However, according to the UK newspaper The Guardian, Madonna herself has come under fire for her actions, and one Russian Orthodox priest urged followers to call in bomb threats to her St. Petersburg show.

Madonna is not alone. Yoko Ono released a statement on August 7 calling on Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to do the right thing: "Mr. Putin, you are a wise man," it said. "You don't need to fight with musicians and their friends. Please FREE PUSSY RIOT! And keep space in the prison for serious criminals."

Sting issued a statement on his Web site calling their potential prison sentence "appalling." He wrote, "dissent is a legitimate and essential right in any democracy and modern politicians must accept this fact with tolerance. A sense of proportion -- and a sense of humor -- is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness.

"Surely the Russian authorities will completely drop these spurious charges and allow the women, these artists, to get back to their lives and to their children," the statement concluded.

Other artists such as Bjork and Tegan and Sara have taken to social media in regards to the matter. On August 10, Bjork expressed her support of the ladies via Facebook by saying, "as a musician and a mother i would like to express I fiercely don't agree with them being put to jail because of their peaceful protest performance. In my opinion, the Russian authorities should let them go home to their families and children."

Britpop musician Jarvis Cocker, along with Pete Townshend of the Who, Kate Nash, Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys, Corinne Bailey-Rae and others all signed a letter that ran in the London Times, urging Putin -- who was then in London for the Olympics -- to give the girls a fair trial.

Still other artists showing their support of the band include Genesis, Franz Ferdinand -- who dedicated "This Fire" to Pussy Riot at their Moscow show -- Faith No More, Patti Smith, Anti-Flag, Propaghandi, Peaches, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Peter Gabriel, and the Beastie Boys' Adam Horovitz, who appeared at a benefit for the group in New York.


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