Support from musicians and singers, as well as from the media and campaigning organisations, for the 3 members of the radical Russian punk group Pussy Riot , imprisoned for daring to protest against Putin’s suppression of freedom of speech and expression. Pussy Riot have been in the news for some months, as reflected on this blog for example – see Pussy Riot Held in Prison and Pussy Riot Song Protest in Red Square.
The three members of the group now on trial (a trial compared by many commentators to the infamous show trials of the Soviet period) face a verdict on Friday 17th August; a global day of protest is being planned for that day, including at 11:00 (an hour before the verdict is delivered) a reading at the Royal Court in London of the testimonies of the three women. Throughout the trial support for the three, and outrage against their persecution, has grown considerably. For example, a letter in the London Times on the 2nd August from performers including Jarvis Cocker, Johnny Marr, Martha Wainwright, Neil Tennant, Pete Townsend, Kate Nash and Corinne Bailey amongst others, expressed concern for the way the members of the group are being treated, and stated that “Dissent is a right in any democracy … .We believe firmly that it is the role of the artist to make legitimate political protest and fight for freedom of speech.” During recent concerts Madonna has joined in the protests, especially at her recent show in Moscow when she appeared on stage wearing a balaclava (as worn by members of Pussy Riot) and with Pussy Riot written on her back whilst telling the audience “I pray for their freedom.”
Amnesty International is writing to the Russian authorities demanding the release of the band members (to add your name text ACTION18 and your full name to 88080). The trial has even been reported in a lengthy feature on the BBC News at Ten on 14th August, although for most of the item the reference was to “a Russian punk group”, with the newsreader seemingly reluctant to actually state the name Pussy Riot!