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Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Björk, and more call for Pussy Riot’s release

on July 22, 2013, 6:08pm

Pussy Riot

Radiohead, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Arcade Fire, Portishead, and Björk are among the hundreds of artists and bands who’ve joined Amnesty International in calling for the immediate release of Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina from Russian prison.

Tolokonnikova, Alekhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich were sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility” stemming from a “punk prayer” protest at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral. The collective was denouncing the ties between Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime and the Russian Orthodox Church. Samutsevich has since been freed; however, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina remain in prison as of today.

In an open letter released ahead of the women’s latest round of parole hearings, the group said: “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’.”

Other artists who’ve signed the letter include Coldplay, Madonna, Eddie Vedder, PJ Harvey, Peter Gabriel, Foster the People, Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Cat Power, Sleigh Bells, Stephen Malkmus, Johnny Marr, Lykke Li, and Billy Bragg.

Read the full letter below:

“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.”

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