Madonna has called on the Russian authorities to release the imprisoned members of punk band Pussy Riot, who were sentenced to two years’ in prison for ‘hooliganism’ on Friday (August 17).
The Queen Of Pop joins Mark Knopfler, Paloma Faith, Foster The People, First Aid Kit and Gogol Bordello in condemning the jailing of Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich.
Their conviction comes after an incident in February this year when they staged a flashmob style performance at Moscow’s Christ The Saviour Cathedral, protesting against the Orthodox Christian church’s support of president Vladimir Putin.
In a statement, Madonna said: “I protest the conviction and sentencing of Pussy Riot to a penal colony for two years for a 40-second performance extolling their political opinions.
“Even if one disagrees with the location or how they chose to express themselves, the sentence is too harsh and in fact is inhumane. I call on all those who love freedom to condemn this unjust punishment. I urge artists around the world to speak up in protest against this travesty. They’ve spent enough time in jail. I call on all of Russia to let Pussy Riot go free.”
Madonna used the Moscow-leg of her ‘MDNA’ last Sunday (August 12) to initially express support for the jailed members of the Russian punk collective. In a speech to the 20,000 strong crowd, Madonna said: “I think they have paid the price for this act and I pray for their freedom,” before stripping to her bra to reveal the words “Pussy Riot” written on her back. For ‘Like A Virgin’ she donned a balaclava similar to those worn by the Russian punk collective.
Responding to her initial protest, a senior Russian politician branded Madonna a “slut’ on Twitter, after the singer showed her support for the jailed Russian punks at the gig in Moscow.