Sting Joins Amnesty International in Condemning Russia's Treatment of Pussy Riot Musicians

Seven members of the Russian band Pussy Riot, January 2012.
Press Release
July 25, 2012

Sting Joins Amnesty International in Condemning Russia's Treatment of Pussy Riot Musicians

On Eve of Moscow Concert, World-renowned Musician says Imprisonment 'Appalling'

Human Rights Organization to Stage Protest & Concert Outside Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., Friday July 27

Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh@aiusa.org, 202-675-8579, @spksingh

(Washington, D.C.) -- World-renowned musician Sting has joined Amnesty International in condemning the Russian authorities' treatment of Pussy Riot, a Russian punk rock protest band, whose members are currently detained stemming from a protest song the group performed in February.

Sting, who is currently on tour and set to perform in Moscow later today (Wednesday, July 25) and in St. Petersburg on Friday, July 27, commented:

"It's appalling that the musicians from Pussy Riot could face prison sentences of up to seven years in jail. Dissent is a legitimate and essential right in any democracy and modern politicians must accept this fact with tolerance. A sense of proportion -- and a sense of humour -- is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness. Surely the Russian authorities will completely drop these spurious charges and allow the women, these artists, to get back to their lives and to their children."

Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who are accused of "hooliganism on the grounds of religious hatred," face possible prison sentences of up to seven years. Preliminary hearings in the case have begun and last week, a court in Moscow ruled that three members of the group must remain in pre-trial custody for six more months. Their trial is set to begin on July 30.

Amnesty International considers the three women to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs, and is calling on the Russia authorities to immediately release the three women. On Friday, July 27 (4:30-8 p.m.) the human rights organization will stage a solidarity protest and punk concert outside the Russian embassy (corner of Wisconsin Ave. and Edmunds St., NW) in Washington, D.C.

"Maria, Ekaterina and Nadezha are musicians, not hooligans," said Suzanne Nossel, executive director, Amnesty International USA. "President Putin and his cronies need to stop repressing freedom of speech in Russia and allow these women to return to their families. It's time for Russian authorities to respect the rights of journalists, human rights defenders, musicians, bloggers and ordinary citizens to express themselves."

So why are Nadezhda, Maria and Ekaterina awaiting a trail that could see them serving prison sentences of up to seven years?

Quite simply, this:

The activists' arrest, stemming from their performance of a song criticizing the Russian Orthodox Church's dedicated support to Vladimir Putin, is emblematic of Russia's wider crackdown on dissent and civil society. A bill approved by the Russian Parliament in July severely restricts the independence of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Russia, silencing critical voices providing vital public services in a wide range of areas.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

Learn More