Former Beatle throws weight behind campaign to free the three imprisoned members of Russian punk group

Paul McCartney has voiced his support for the three imprisoned members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot.

The former Beatle has written an open letter to Nadia Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich as they await their verdict at 3pm tomorrow. The women have been in detention since their arrest in March for singing a protest song against Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s main cathedral. They face up to three years in prison if convicted.

The case has been seen as a high-water mark in Russian president Vladimir Putin’s attempts to crack down on dissent in Russia.

“I’m writing to show my support for you at this difficult time,” the letter reads. “I would like you to know that I very much hope the Russian authorities would support the principle of free speech for all their citizens and not feel that they have to punish you for your protest.” He adds:

Many people in the civilized world are allowed to voice their opinions and as long as they do not hurt anyone in doing so. I believe this is the best way forward for all societies. I hope you can stay strong and believe that I and many others like me who believe in free speech will do everything in our power to support you and the idea of artistic freedom.

Peaches has also thrown her weight behind the campaign, enlisting the help of artists including Kate Nash, The Knife, Scissor Sisters and Peter Bjorn And John for a new song, video and petition, the Guardian reports.

Bjork last week also joined the ranks of artists voicing support for the jailed members of the group. Previously, musicians including Jarvis Cocker, Johnny Marr, Alex Kapranos, Kate Nash and a host of other artists signed a letter calling on Putin to release the three detained members of the band. Madonna also spoke out in support of the band at her show in Moscow as part of her MDNA tour earlier this month.

Blood Red Shoes claimed they were ejected from a party at London’s ICA for Russian Olympians after they dedicated a song to Pussy Riot last week. “They fucking pulled the plug on us”, said drummer Steven Ansell. “We were then told to get out by a bunch of massive Russian security guards. We grabbed our gear into a van and got out pronto.” A spokesperson for the event’s organisers BOSCO told NME: “There is no truth to this statement whatsoever. There was no mention of Pussy Riot at any stage during the gig, and the band played its full set.”