Please speak out now against the prosecution and possible imprisonment of three young Russian women for singing a protest song in a Russian Orthodox Church to denounce its corruption and ties to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
The women are members of the feminist punk rock group Pussy Riot and were arrested after a Feb. 21, 2012, performance which featured the song, "Virgin Mary, Redeem Us of Putin." Each group member was dressed in a vibrant uniform with colored tights and a balaclava covering her face. The band took the stage at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow.
All three women, who have since apologized, told the Huffington Post that the goal of the performance "was to express their resentment over the church's open support for Putin's rule." The women, who have been in jail since March appear to be facing a three-year prison sentence.
Maria Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samusevich have been charged with "hooliganism," although The New York Times reported that recently the women have been accused of "committing 'moral harm,' engaging in 'Satanism' and 'inciting religious hatred.' " It was announced Wednesday that a verdict will be issued on Friday, Aug. 17. Hooliganism charges carry a maximum sentence of seven years. Two of the women have young children.
Feminism is considered a "sin" by the Russian Orthodox Church and religious leaders, known as "patriarchs," who think the women should be punished for "desecrating the Russian Orthodox Church." They have issued forceful statements, such as Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers leader Leonid Simonovich-Nikshich, who said "We’re going to rip them up and burn them. . . Like in the Middle Ages."
It is urgent that you contact the key officials listed below to protest the charges and sentence the women face.
Watch a video of Pussy Riot's performance here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALS92big4TY.
Please email and/or write to the officials below. Asking for the immediate release of Maria Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samusevich.
USA: Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak
Embassy of the Russian Federation
2650 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington DC 20007
Phone: (202) 298-5700
Fax: (202) 298-5735
Prosecutor of the Moscow’s Central Administrative District
Denis Gennadievich Popov
Prosecutor’s Office of the Central
ul. L.Tolstogo, 8, str.1
Yurii Yakovlevich Chaika
ul. B.Dimitrovka, d. 15a
Moscow, GSP-3, 107048
(Feel free to copy and paste the statement below.)
Free the brave young women musicians — Maria Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samusevich — who are essentially facing imprisonment for a victimless crime — blasphemy. The band members should never have been charged, jailed or put on trial. Mean-spirited Russian clerics should not be permitted to prevail in persecuting women for speaking out.
Thank you for your help!