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Madonna speaks out in Zurich

Madonna adds her voice to critics of Pussy Riot verdict

Madonna, who had already voiced her support for the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, on Saturday joined a chorus of celebrities in slamming a jail sentence handed down in Moscow to three women from the group over a protest against President Vladimir Putin.
'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,' Madonna said in a statement.
The three women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, were convicted in a Russian court of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for performing a 'punk prayer' in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral in which they called on the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin.
The two-year sentence handed down against the three women on Friday has generated outrage outside of Russia, but within the country polls have shown that few Russians sympathize with them.
Judge Marina Syrova told the Moscow court on Friday, 'The girls' actions were sacrilegious, blasphemous and broke the church's rules.' She rejected their argument that they had no intention of offending Russian Orthodox believers.
Madonna had previously expressed her support for the band after they were arrested.
In her latest statement, Madonna said the two-year sentence was 'too harsh and in fact is inhumane.'
'They've spent enough time in jail. I call on all of Russia to let Pussy Riot go free,' she said.
On Friday, the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the sentences given to the women were 'disproportionate' to the crime, and European nations and the United States voiced similarly sharp criticism.
So did Canadian rock star Bryan Adams, actor Adrian Grenier and Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney, who vowed to not play a show in Russia over what he described as its move to 'imprison innocent musicians for speaking their minds peacefully.'
British singers Sting and Paul McCartney have also shown support for the Pussy Riot band.

From Reuters Via Yahoo! News

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Steve

I wonder in M will withdraw her Hard Candy gym in Moscow? Or will she be happy to pocket cash from this corrupt and oppressive country/regime?

Answers on a postcard...

Jim

Hello Liz

I agree with you, it's massively disproportionate. Today it says in the press that the other members of Pussy Riot are still being pursued by the Russian authorities, although to give those authorities the benefit of the doubt we don't know whether they're pursuing them for questioning or for trial/imprisonment. We can make a good guess though.

In her closing statement, Yekaterina Samutsevich talked about the reasons why they chose to protest inside the church, saying that they were to do with the church's direct participation in supporting Putin's manoeuvres to become a perpetual leader, i.e. a dictator.

I don't see the Russian Orthodox church as being a bystander or onlooker, nor do I see it as an innocent victim of a senseless act. From what I've read, the act made sense. It was not an act of hatred towards religion or towards worshippers, which is what Pussy Riot have been accused of. The act was non-violent, and didn't involve damaging property or people.

A Russian cleric has said that the members of Pussy Riot were praying in their own way. That may be a stretch for some people to see, but since the song lyrics they sang inside the church were a request to the religious figure of Mary to remove Putin, and were a direct reference to the church using its power to help him stay at the top, it doesn't seem illogical to me to see it as a request for a kind of divine intercession. I'm far from an expert on religion but from what I've read there is a long religious tradition of requesting intercession from Mary.

The closing statements say that the prosecutors kept doing slips-of-the-tongue, which Pussy Riot were seeing as an example of divine intervention in the courtroom. That brought a smile to my face.

Liz

The women admitted themselves transgressing boundaries of the church may not have been warranted, especially when their beef was with the Putin tightening his grip on power via the government security services and not Putin merging Church and State. But two years is massively disproportionate. The only positive is that the severity of the sentence exposes to the entire world the genuine truth about a lack of impartiality in the Russian criminal justice system.

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