Pussy Riot

It’s been almost a year since members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot were found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and sentenced to two years in prison. Despite the wishes of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and countless protests worldwide, two members of the band — Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova and Maria “Masha” Alekhina — remain behind bars today. Now, Amnesty International has organized a petition to have the band members released from what Amnesty calls “notoriously brutal penal colonies” where “there is serious concern for [Pussy Riot's] safety.” The human rights organization has collected signatures from dozens of musicians, including Animal Collective, Arcade Fire, Karen O, Phoenix, Radiohead, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, and lots more.

There are two missives from Amnesty, in fact: one, an open letter to the imprisoned musicians; the other, a petition addressed to Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika. You can read both below — as well as see the names of all the musicians who have already signed. And you can sign the petition yourself here.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL OPEN LETTER

Dear Masha and Nadia,

As the one-year anniversary of your trial approaches, we are writing to assure you that, around the world, people are both still thinking of you and working for your release. Although you were the most visible of the protesters, we know that there were many other young people who have suffered in the protests, about whom we are also very concerned. But, in many ways, through your imprisonment, you have come to represent them.

Many artists voiced their concern when these charges were first brought against you, we had every hope that the authorities, in dealing with you, would show some understanding, a sense of proportion, even some of the wonderful Russian sense of humour, but none of the above were forthcoming.

The impact of your shockingly unjust trial and imprisonment has spread far and wide. Especially among your fellow artists, musicians and citizens around the world, including the many parents who feel your anguish at being separated from your children. While understanding the sensitivities of protesting in a place of worship, we ask that the Russian authorities review these harsh sentences, so that you may return to your children, your families and your lives.

The right to freedom of expression and dissent is a legitimate one and essential in any kind of democracy. You have been accused of what could be described as ‘a victimless’ crime, but in our opinion, in a just society, there can be no crime where there is no identifiable ‘victim’.

Your strength, bravery and fearlessness are an inspiration to us all.

Yours in solidarity,

Bryan Adams, Adele, Alt-J, Laurie Anderson, Animal Collective, Anti-Flag, Arcade Fire, Arch Enemy, Archive, Joan Armatrading, Joan Baez, Beardyman, Jeff Beck, Yasiin Bey, björk, Rubén Blades, Billy Bragg, Jackson Browne, Peter Buck, Tracy Chapman, Chase & Status, Neneh Cherry, The Clash, Coldplay, Lily Rose Cooper, Dido, Django Django, Melissa Etheridge, Siobhan Fahey, Paloma Faith, First Aid Kit, Franz Ferdinand, Foster the People, fun., Peter Gabriel, Sir Bob Geldof, Kim Gordon, Debbie Harry, PJ Harvey, Don Henley, The Hidden Cameras, Niall Horan, Billy Joel, Sir Elton John, Ke$ha, Angelique Kidjo, The Knife, Mark Knopfler, Tom Lehrer, Sean Lennon, Annie Lennox, Lykke Li, Sir Paul McCartney, Romy Madley-Croft, Madonna, Zayn Malik, Stephen Malkmus, Marina & the Diamonds, Johnny Marr, Massive Attack, Mike Mills, Moby, Thurston Moore, Tom Morello, Alanis Morissette, James Morrison, Graham Nash, Kate Nash, Youssou N’Dour, Karen O, Yoko Ono, Clock Opera, Ozzy Osbourne, Liam Payne, Peaches, Joe Perry, Phoenix, Portishead, Portugal. The Man, Rain Phoenix, Cat Power, Radiohead, Bonnie Raitt, Rise Against, Patti Scialfa, Scissor Sisters, Paul Simon, Sleigh Bells, Patti Smith, Esperanza Spalding, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Stewart, Sting, Michael Stipe, Harry Styles, Neil Tennant, Louis Tomlinson, Pete Townshend, K T Tunstall, U2, Eddie Vedder.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PETITION:

In February 2012, members of Pussy Riot performed mere seconds of a protest song in Moscow’s main Orthodox cathedral that was critical of authorities in Russia. Two women – Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova and Maria “Masha” Alekhina – were found guilty of “hooliganism” and are serving sentences in notoriously brutal penal colonies.

Disappointingly, both Masha and Nadia – both having small children – were refused to be granted a deferral of their sentence until their children turn 14 years old. Both of them were also refused parole and are now appealing against this decision. The two women are prisoners of conscience and there is serious concern for their safety.

More than 100 internationally renowned musicians have joined a worldwide call for the release of the two jailed members of the Russian feminist punk group Pussy Riot ahead of their parole appeal hearings this week. Join them and sign the petition below.

Dear Prosecutor General,

I am writing to express my deep concern about Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, who were sentenced to two years in a penal colony for their participation in a February 2012 protest action by the feminist punk group Pussy Riot at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. These two women, both mothers in their twenties, were detained solely for their peaceful expression of their beliefs and thus, are Prisoners of Conscience.

I call on you to ensure that Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are immediately and unconditionally released. While they remain incarcerated, the two women must not be ill-treated by prison staff or inmates, and they must be allowed regular contact with their families and legal teams.

In closing, I welcome the news of Ekaterina Samutsevich’s freedom, but remain concerned about the conditional status of the release. The three Pussy Riot members should not have been prosecuted in the first place. I call on you and all authorities to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression in the Russian Federation, and to remedy the unjust treatment of these young women immediately.

I thank you for your attention.

Again, if you want to sign the petition, you can do so here.

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Comments (9)
  1. Injustices happen all over the world everyday. Only when the victims are edgy white chicks with neon leggings from American Apparel does the music community stand up and take notice.

    • Yes, because there was never anything called Live Aid, Farm Aid, The Tibetan Freedom Concert, The AIDS Benefit at Wembley Stadium, or any of the hundreds of other benefits and events that routinely attract “the music community.”

      Furthermore, Pussy Riot is part of the music community, so it makes sense that the music community would stick up for them. Your argument would be better served if you could provide examples of other musicians who were the victims of “injustice” but did not attract any support — or if you just knew what the fuck you were talking about.

      • What do AIDS and foreclosed farms have to do with social injustice?

        > Pussy Riot is part of the music community

        HAHAHA, good one. I really loved their last album. The live show was amazing. Still rocking my Pussy Riot World Tour ’06 t-shirt.

        • Know when you’re beat, son. But if you really want to pursue this feeble strain of thought, let’s do this…

          First off, your first post never specified “social” injustice. It’s pretty easy to win an argument if you can continually shift the assertions you’ve made in the past, but I’m not having that here. AIDS as a fatal sexually transmitted disease would definitely fit the broad category of “injustice”, unless you’re a religiously-afflicted puritan who believes that people deserve to die for having premarital sex or being promiscuous.

          But for now let’s just go along with your sad, little capitulations: if you think there is no social component to the AIDS crisis, and a huge one at that, then you weren’t around (or sentient) in the 80s and early 90s. I mean, jesus, even if you did the bare minimum and watched Philadelphia starring Sir Thomas Hanks, you’d know that a whole set of public stigmas and social repercussions attached itself to the disease. But for the sake of showing how completely futile your objections are, let’s say that you are completely right and AIDS and foreclosed farms have nothing to do with social injustice: that still leaves the other examples of Tibet and Live Aid and things like the concert for Darfur that render your initial absolutism false: “ONLY when…” One example disproves it.

          Lastly, who says you have to put an album out or have a world tour to be a part of the music community? If so, then I guess Buddy Holly wouldn’t be part of it, or the Modern Lovers, or Sky Ferreira.

          tl;dr – you remain wrong.

    • I understand where you’re coming from. I’m often disenchanted by how disengaged the music community is from social and political issues– issues in which music has played a central role in the past. However, I’ve come to believe that encouraging apathy about certain issues because other things are worse is never a good route to take.

      First, establishing a hierarchy for the severity of human rights abuses is inhumane in itself.

      Second, a case can be made that this Pussy Riot thing is a big deal. Russia can be fucking creepy (for instance, Putin signed a law on July 3 prohibiting gay couples from adopting children, also even prohibiting couples who live in countries where marriage equality exists from adopting Russian children), and it’s time one of their abuses takes the world stage.

      Third, yeah injustices happen all over the world every day. Our government and media like to focus primarily on countries with brown people and/or North Koreans, rather than on ourselves or our “allies”, so to speak. Let’s talk about the country with the president who’s an ex-KGB

      Fourth, this story has the mainstream media, Paul McCartney, and others saying the words “Pussy Riot”. My research has shown that this is amusing and should continue.

  2. Sometimes i wish I knew nothing, life seems so simple

  3. even animal collective into this? please God no!

  4. snarfblat  |   Posted on Jul 23rd, 2013 0

    why the fuck didn’t bryan adams make the headline?

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