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Adele, PJ Harvey, Patti Smith, Paul McCartney call for Pussy Riot's release in open letter

Over 100 musicians have called for the release of the imprisoned Russian punks

Dan Dennison/NME
Pic: Dan Dennison/NME
Over 100 musicians including Adele, PJ Harvey, Paul McCartney and Patti Smith have signed a letter calling for the release of imprisoned Russian punks Pussy Riot.

In the open letter, coordinated by Amnesty International, the artists pledge their support to 25-year-old Maria Alekhina and 23-year old Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who are currently serving two year sentences for breach of public order motivated by religious hatred after they storied into Moscow's main cathedral to perform their now-infamous "punk prayer". The sentences were handed to them in August 2012. The letter comes ahead of parole hearings for the two women his week (July 24 and 26).

"Dear Masha and Nadia," the letter reads. "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."

The letter concludes: "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."

The full list of artists who have signed the letter is as follows: 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, The Chemical Brothers, 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, 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, Rain Phoenix, Portishead, Portugal. The Man, 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.

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