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Support for Pussy Riot Increases in Russia and Worldwide

From Anti-Flag to Ad-Rock, People Gather in Support

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Support for Pussy Riot Increases in Russia and Worldwide

Anti-Flag, just one of the many supporters of Pussy Riot's imprisoned members

©Nicole Lucas
The plight of the three imprisoned members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot continues to gain attention, and the women continue to gain support both in their home country and throughout the world.

Last night, five members of the group got on stage with Faith No More during their Moscow performance, where the bands played together before Faith No More donned Pussy Riot shirts and the Russian feminist punk outfit's trademark balaclavas to perform "We Care A Lot." (Video coverage of the show is here.)

This is the next step in support worldwide for the band. Last month, Beastie Boys' Ad-Rock performed a DJ benefit for the three women in his first appearance since the death of his bandmate Adam Yauch, calling for the relase of Maria Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samucevich. More recently, American punks Anti-Flag (currently on the 2012 Vans Warped Tour) recorded and posted an English version of the band's "Punk-Prayer" (you can listen to it here), along with a press release that states, in part:

Anti-Flag calls for the immediate release of Pussy Riot and all prisoners of conscience. Whether it be trumped up charges levied by police against Occupy protestors, or the trumped up charges levied by the Russian authorities against the members of Pussy Riot, there is no difference in the police-state tactics that those in power will stoop to in order to oppress those who are willing fight for equality and justice for all, not just the wealthy few. (The full release is here.)

The feminist group/activist band is also the subject of an exhibition at Paris's Palais de Tokyo, where a show entitled The Case of the Pussy Riot Artists launched on June 21. Part of a series of shows intended to highlight hot topics in the news, the Pussy Riot exhibition includes two comic strips, a documentary film, and a video of a Pussy Riot performance.

In the band's home country, support is mounting for them as well. An official letter to the Russian government calling for the women's release was issued earlier this week from many members of Russian's cultural scene. Included in the signatures were the names of actress Chulpan Khamatova and actor Yevgeny Mironov, who both had appeared in videos earlier this year endorsing Puting and urging Russians to vote for him.

The courts have once again extended their detention until at least July 24, with the likelihood of a trial not beginning until August. This defies recent statements by the Russian Ombudsman, who told a Russian television station that it is "absolutely against our law" that the three women sit in jail for their performance inside the Cathedral of Christ the Savior on February 21, adding:

There's one problem that must be solved as soon as possible - it should preferably have been solved yesterday: why on earth are they still behind bars? Why are they behind bars without a prompt trial?

Pussy Riot embody the punk spirit that many countries can enjoy freely, and the ability to protest and make one's voice known. Unfortunately, some countries, including Russia, Indonesia and Burma still live under repressive governments that repress and actively persecute any expression or opinion that hints of defiance to political or religious rule, and punks often still become easily recognized and undersupported scapegoats.

If convicted, indeed if they ever get to trial, the three women face seven years of prison on hooliganism. But hopefully Putin and the church officials that he is allied so closely with will see the light, and indeed the mounting public pressure, and resolve this situation by releasing the women. But then again, with recent developments in Russian law making protest all but illegal in Russia, it's obvious that the government is preparing to do its best to silence critics like Pussy Riot for good, so I won't be surprised if the courts also do their best to make an example out of the three women in an effort to stem any repeated dissent from the general populace. As support for the women mounts though, this has a high possibility of blowing up back in the face of the officials who are trying to shut down activism of this kind.

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