Artist sews up mouth in support of Pussy Riot

Protest comes after news that the Russian punk collective will be detained until 2013 without trial

Artist sews up mouth in support of Pussy Riot

Photo: Reuters

A Russian artist has sewn his mouth together in support of three members of the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot, who are currently in prison for their protest against Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Petr Pavlensky stood in front of St Petersburg's Kazan Cathedral holding a banner reading 'Pussy Riot act is a replay of a famous act by Jesus Christ', ITN reports.

Police called an ambulance for Pavlensky but he was discharged by doctors after a check-up.

Three members of the band - Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich - have been in pre-trial detention since March of this year, after they staged a protest against Russian President Vladmir Putin. On Friday (July 20), a court ruled that the three women will remain in custody until January 12, 2013.

At the weekend, Franz Ferdinand and the Red Hot Chili Peppers voiced support for the band at gigs in Moscow.

Pussy Riot face up to seven years in jail on hooliganism charges after they were arrested following an impromptu performance at Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral, where they sang a song called 'Holy Shit' as a protest against the Orthodox Christian church's alleged support for Putin. Although Putin regained power in the last Russian election, the verdict has been marred by accusations of fraud by his competitors.

Shortly before their arrest, members of Pussy Riot spoke to NME, calling Putin's reaction to their church protest "childish". "We knew what the political situation was but now we're personally feeling the full force of Putin's Kafka-esque machine," they said. "The state's policy is based on a minimum of critical thinking and on a maximum of spite, and a desire to get even with those who don't please it."

Amnesty International have called for the release of band members, arguing that they are "prisoners of conscience" and accused the Russian government of punishing them for the "broader political context" of their actions, rather than the actions themselves.

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