Stephen Fry blasts ‘fool’ Putin over jailed Pussy Riot

Gay comic Stephen Fry joins campaign to free jailed members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot who staged anti-Putin protest in Moscow's Orthodox cathedral

Stephen Fry blasts ‘fool’ Putin over jailed Pussy Riot
20 August 2012

Gay actor and comedian Stephen Fry has written a two-page open letter of support to the imprisoned members of Russian protest band Pussy Riot.

In the letter, Fry calls himself ‘an unashamed Russophile’ and lambasts Russia for its ‘monstrous injustice and preposterous tyranny’ in the case, calling the women’s two-year prison sentence ‘astoundingly unfair and disproportionate’.

Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were jailed for two years on Friday (17 August) for ‘hooliganism on the grounds of religious hatred’ after singing a protest song in Moscow’s central Orthodox cathedral.

Fry defends Pussy Riot’s demonstration, which slammed President Vladimir Putin and spoke out for gay rights, saying the stunt was performed with ‘good reason’.

‘Your argument was not with the religious, or with Christianity, but with Putinist croneyism within the ranks of the Orthodox Church, especially this particular building, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour,’ he wrote.

‘Putin hasn’t made a monster of himself. He has made a fool of himself,’ Fry concludes in the letter.

‘It is often said that had the world laughed at Hitler early enough he would never have taken the hold on power he did. I do not call Putin a Hitler. Yet. But it is time to laugh him out of this stance and you out of incarceration.’

Fry’s letter was a response to Amnesty International’s campaign on the case, which currently involves gathering messages of support for the jailed women.

Since their imprisonment, the human rights organization has already received over 5,000 support messages, though Stephen Fry’s is the longest and arguably most notable.

The actor and comedian has a record of supporting free speech and recently lent his support to Paul Chambers in the ‘Twitter joke trial’ concerning Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said: ‘Pussy Riot always looked politically-motivated and putting them in jail represents a bitter blow for freedom of expression in Russia.

‘We consider the three women to be prisoners of conscience who should be released immediately.’

Celebrities and musicians including Madonna, the Scissor Sisters and Paul McCartney have also shown their support for Pussy Riot.

However, Russian gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseev believes international calls for the band’s release has actually resulted in a tougher sentence.

The protest song called on Virgin Mary to become a feminist and banish Vladimir Putin. It also criticized the dedication and support shown to Putin by some representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Russian authorities subsequently arrested Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova on 4 March, and Ekaterina Samutsevich on 15 March, claiming they were the masked singers.

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