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Pussy Riot needs your support - text and stand up for free speech

17 August 2012 - Two-year sentence announced. This action is now closed. 
Nadezhda, Maria and Ekaterina have been sentenced two years service in a penal colony, after Moscow City Court found them guilty of 'hooliganism on grounds of religious hatred'.
We believe the three women are victims of a persecution campaign designed by Russian authorities to trample free speech. We will not stop campaigning for Pussy Riot. Please let them know their fight for free speech is not in vain: send your message of support to Pussy Riot

Detained for 'hooliganism'

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Nadezhda, Maria and Ekaterina, three alleged members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot, were put on trial on 30 July 2012 on charges of for 'hooliganism'. Their crime? Performing a gig in a church.

They have been held in Moscow police cells since their arrest in March, denied access to their families – including their young children. In July, the Moscow City Court ruled to extend their detention by another six months on the grounds that the women committed a serious crime, and may abscond if granted bail.

Pussy Riot's 'punk prayer' and anarchist lyrics might not be everyone's cup of tea, but the Russian authorities' enthusiasm to silence, harass and detain the women is an indisputable violation of their right to free speech.

We believe that Nadezhda, Maria and Ekaterina are prisoners of conscience, and are calling for their immediate release. Find out more about Pussy Riot

Want to help show the Russian authorities that we won't stand for their targeted and unsubstantiated detention of the three young women? You're in the right place.

Text for free speech straight from your mobile

Don't let Pussy Riot's campaign for free speech be in vain. Show Nadezhda, Maria and Ekaterina that the world is watching, by texting them your message of support.

Text ACTION22, followed by your message of support and your name to 88080

Under 18? So that we can ensure you receive appropriate communications, please include your date of birth in the following format: DD/MM/YYYY (e.g. ACTION7 Joe Bloggs 01/01/1900).

*Texts charged at standard network rate. Please ask bill-payers permission. To unsubscribe, text STOP AMNESTY to 70004 at any time. See full terms and conditions

What happens to your text?

Take action by text and we’ll add your name, but not your phone number, to the letter below which we’ll fax to Moscow authorities overseeing the women's detention.

The message we'll send on your behalf

I am writing to you to ask you to drop the charges of hooliganism against Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and immediately and unconditionally release them.

I believe that Maria, Ekaterina and Nadezhda have been detained solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, and as such are prisoners of conscience. It is your duty to respect free speech and comply with international human rights law by releasing them immediately and unconditionally.

I also request that you promptly, fully and impartially investigate the allegations that the three arrested women have been pressured by members of the Centre of the Fight with Extremism and other officials.

Prefer to write your own letter?

Contact details for the Moscow officials overseeing the case are listed in the Pussy Riot casesheet PDF at the very bottom of this post.

Pussy Riot - the backstory

Why are Nadezhda, Maria and Ekaterina awaiting a trial that could see them serving prison sentences of up to seven years?

Quite simply, this:

The three women, all in their twenties, are alleged to have donned neon balaclavas and performed as part of Pussy Riot at this gig in February. But they are allegations only - Pussy Riot is a collective identity; the need for the women to cover their faces indicative of the hostile treatment they've received from Moscow's authorities.

In Pussy Riot's own words:

"one of the reasons we choose to always wear balaclavas [is that] new members can join the bunch and it does not really matter who takes part in the next act - there can be three of us or eight, like in our last gig on the Red Square, or even 15."

Since the band came together in September last year, Pussy Riot has performed impromptu gigs in public places ranging from Moscow buses and Metro stations, to the symbolic Red Square. But it was their February performance of 'Virgin Mary, redeem us of Putin' in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral that led to their arrest. The song calls on the Virgin Mother to embrace feminism, shun Putin, and cut ties between the state and the church.

Whether or not they push your musical buttons, it's indisputable that Pussy Riot - as a collective, or any number of individuals - has a legitimate right to freely criticise its government. International human rights law absolutely outlaws restrictions on free speech when they are based purely on the notion that others may find the content offensive - regardless of the beat behind the message, or where it's played.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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56 comments

Just sent this to the prosecutors:


Dear Prosecutor,Prosecutor General, Your Excellency Mr Alexander Yakovenko,

Surely you must all realise it is time that your country stood up against the elitist dictatorship represented by Alexander Putin and his supporters that only serves to perpetuate his desire for power and control.

I have been to your country twice and was always delighted to meet the true Russians who respond with genuine warmth and friendship. However, I have also been shocked at the level of corruption and misuse of power that is displayed so blatantly by your politicians and services.

This is a chance for you to show that Russia can change and take control of its own destiny.

Your leaders have failed many other countries by their lack of leadership and selfish denial - don't let them let you down too.

platinumtone 9 years ago

What invading Churches? How is that freedom of speech? They were simply looking for publicity and they got it. That is why they were giggling at sentencing. Serious people do not do this.

mohamin007 9 years ago

Re: Erica Blair's remarks on the Sex Pistols
They might well have invaded the alter at St. Paul's had the Church of England aligned itself specifically with a political party (and a deeply oppresive one at that), as the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church (ROC) has done and this was Pussy Riot's whole point. The ROC should be non-partisan and remain aloof from politics, except to stand up for the down-trodden, and they forfeited the right to expect their premises to be respected when they entered the political arena in this way (telling their congregation to vote for Putin) and the state merely proved Pussy Riot's point by disingenuously equating "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" with "hooliganism motivated by Putin hatred". Much though Putin imagines it to be true, the two are NOT the same thing, not even down the barrel of a gun. His posing bare-chested on horseback, his unapologetic arming of the psychopath Bashar Al-Assad and now his messiah-complex are just some reasons why most people in the west think he's a dickhead.

timfromchester 9 years ago

Seems to me their are a few points being missed during the course of this thread:
As far as I'am aware; Catholic church means - The peoples church.
According to Catholic belief - a priest always speaks to you with the direct word of god, (not sure how Catholics reconcile that with the recently "proved according to law" child abuse cases here in the UK, or the Catholic churches cover up moves to try and prevent evidence emerging, which were revealed during the course of them).
I can't understand Russian but as far as I can see from the You Tube clip, a group of young women peacefully entered their church and offered a prayer, according to their chosen format, concerning the Russian government. I'am sure far stronger prayers have been offered against the government, albeit in hushed voices and whispers.
I would have thought the church would have welcomed such young new dynamic vibrant worshipers.
As has been said by others, high time to laugh Putin and the church officials out of office before anyone takes them to seriously.
So I applaud Pussy Riot for their courage in making such a prayer publicly, within the refuge(?) of their own church.
Maybe a naive way to make such a statement possibly, but seven years in gaol - must be that the government and church have such delicate ego's and cannot justify the power they wield.
FREE PUSSY RIOT.

colininwales 9 years ago

I really don't understand why Amnesty International are supporting this as a priority. There are many people around the world who are victims of a shoddy justice system but why choose a group of girls who have such a shady connection in Russia? Their background is pretty much to disrupt and attack the freedoms of other people simply because, they believe they know better? How and in what way is that appropriate.

It was hardly a peaceful protest. The web email said it was a peaceful protest in a church? Really? If I went into someone's home or the streets and kicked things over and started making a noise and damaged things, is that really peaceful? If people were shocked by me attacking their rights, is that peaceful? The concept of peaceful appears to be amplified here to abrasion of many people's senses. They can criticise their government - they should not have the right to criticise and attack anybody else. A church is not what was at wrong here - it was a few people who allegedly, supposedly support putin. They should go to them. It's like attacking muslims for the actions of about 2 or 3 people. Is this what Amnesty International are supporting now?

The simple question is Amnesty, yes they have "human rights" but what about the human rights they attacked and left them in jail. They are a group of people and part of a collective that have done a great many disruptive things to the public, not to mention the acts of releasing cockroaches and attacking people and vandalising... then attacking a church which is an important part of someone's culture - yes, a prison sentence was coming. The length of it, yes can be questionable but seriously, this looks like selective reasoning.

Selective reasoning because, how many prison sentences are you going to address after this as human rights violations? Should they have been sent to jail? I think it seems reasonable considering the attacks they have made on the "human rights" of the general public.

How long? Well if Amnesty has a problem with the judicial system in Russia - let's address that. Let's not promote a band looking for a record deal and all the political hoopla attached to this which aids people with money out there while we're trying to aid those with truly pernicious acts of human rights violation.

dolphinsufi_1 9 years ago

"International human rights law absolutely outlaws restrictions on free speech when they are based purely on the notion that others may find the content offensive"

Not true. See Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000

Offensiveness can be a public order illegality in the UK.

Now shall we come along to Amnesty's offices and homes unannounced with boom boxes loaded with something suitably cacophonic?

"it does not really matter who takes part in the next act" confirms that this group are not musicians but glory seekers.

Amnesty should not support rudeness and anti-social behaviour. These "punks" should demonstrate in public and not in a private religious place.

Oh I am a very liberal anti-Blair anti-Thatcher British citizen but draw the line at anti-social behaviour.

henrywilliams58 9 years ago