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Stars demand release of members of Pussy Riot

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Rachel Salmon
WVoN co-editor

Some of the world’s top musicians have signed a letter demanding the release of members of jailed Russian punk band Pussy Riot.

Corrine Bailey-Rae, Kate Nash and Martha Wainwright are among those who have signed the letter which said:

“”Dissent is a right in any democracy and it is entirely disproportionate that [the punk band’s members] face seven years in jail for what we consider a preposterous charge of ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”.

In February three members of Pussy Riot Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Mariya Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, were arrested after performing a ‘punk prayer’ in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral blasting Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church (see WVoN coverage).

Since then they have been held in custody until the start of their trial this week when they pleaded not guilty.  If convicted they could face up to seven years in jail.

“We believe firmly that it is the role of the artist to make legitimate political protest and fight for freedom of speech,” the letter read.

The supporters were also concerned “about recent reports that food is being withheld from them and that they have appeared in court in a cage.”

One of the women was given medical treatment in court on Wednesday.The letter was timed to co-incide with a visit to London by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“As he visits the United Kingdom this week, we ask President Putin to ensure these three women receive a fair hearing,” said the letter.

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