Madonna urges other artists to speak out on Pussy Riot conviction

Queen of Pop has condemned Pussy Riot's conviction, calling the sentence too harsh and inhumane

Madonna urges other artists to speak out on Pussy Riot conviction
19 August 2012

Madonna has spoken out against Pussy Riot’s conviction after their pro-gay, anti-Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.

The three members of the band, Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were sentenced to two years in prison for ‘hooliganism’.

The pop star released a statement yesterday (18 August) condemning the Russian punk band’s conviction, and urged other artists to speak out for the band.

She said: ‘I protest the conviction and sentencing of Pussy Riot to a penal colony for two years for a 40 second performance extolling their political opinions.

‘Even if one disagrees with the location or how they chose to express themselves, the sentence is too harsh and in fact is inhumane.

‘I call on all those who love freedom to condemn this unjust punishment.

‘I urge artists around the world to speak up in protest against this travesty. They’ve spent enough time in jail.

‘I call on ALL of Russia to let Pussy Riot go free.’

Last week at a concert in Moscow, Madonna showed support for Pussy Riot by taking off her shirt as she was singing Express Yourself to reveal the band’s name written on her back.

The Queen of Pop has also enraged Russian officials by speaking out on St Petersburg’s anti-gay propaganda law.

Pussy Riot performed the song ‘Virgin Mary redeem us of Putin’, and included a lyric reference to the country’s persecuted LGBT community with the line ‘Gay pride sent to Siberia in chains’.

It was one of a number of performances intended as a protest against Putin in the run-up to Russia’s presidential elections in March.

The song outraged the Orthodox Church in Russia, which accused Pussy Riot of blasphemy and asked for severe judgment.

Human rights groups condemned the trial, with Amnesty International accusing it of being ‘politically motivated’.

Others artists who have given their support to Pussy Riot include Paul McCartney, Sting, Jarvis Cocker and Neil Tennant.

Tennant and Cocker co-signed a letter with fellow British artists Martha Wainwright and Pete Townsend, saying: ‘We believe firmly that it is the role of the artist to make legitimate political protest and fight for freedom of speech.’

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