Ke$ha, Radiohead, and Paul Simon Agree: Pussy Riot Must Be Set Free

Amnesty International petition picks up 100 high-profile signatures

Free Pussy Riot Amnesty International open letter
A sign supporting imprisoned Pussy Riot members Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images
Dan Reilly WRITTEN BY
Dan Reilly

With the two imprisoned members of Pussy Riot set to appeal their convictions again this week, Amnesty International recruited more than 100 musicians to sign an open letter calling for their release. Nadezhda "Nadya" Tolokonnikova and Maria "Masha" Alekhina are nearing the middle of a two-year sentence for hooliganism, stemming from their "punk prayer" against Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main cathedral. A third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was also convicted but released on appeal when her lawyers proved that she had never reached the church's altar.

The case drew the attention of musicians such as Paul McCartney and Madonna, and now they've been joined by an all-star cast of artists in signing the open letter, which you can read below. Bruce Springsteen, Radiohead, U2, Arcade Fire, the surviving members of the Clash, Karen O, Adele, Paul Simon, and Eddie Vedder are just a few of the big names offering their support.

"The impact of your shockingly unjust trial and imprisonment has spread far and wide. Especially among your fellow artists, musicians and citizens around the world, including the many parents who feel your anguish at being separated from your children," reads one section of the letter before concluding with "Your strength, bravery and fearlessness are an inspiration to us all."

In other Pussy Riot news, members of the feminist art-punk collective released "Like a Red Prison," a song and video critizing Putin's homophobia and allegedly corrupt allegiance with Russia's oil industry chairman. In the video, the balaclava-bedecked rockers climb a pipeline and throw oil on photos of their political enemies, including the man who supposedly signed the arrest warrant for Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova.

OPEN LETTER

Dear Masha and Nadia,

As the one-year anniversary of your trial approaches, we are writing to assure you that, around the world, people are both still thinking of you and working for your release. Although you were the most visible of the protesters, we know that there were many other young people who have suffered in the protests, about whom we are also very concerned. But, in many ways, through your imprisonment, you have come to represent them.
Many artists voiced their concern when these charges were first brought against you, we had every hope that the authorities, in dealing with you, would show some understanding, a sense of proportion, even some of the wonderful Russian sense of humour, but none of the above were forthcoming.

The impact of your shockingly unjust trial and imprisonment has spread far and wide. Especially among your fellow artists, musicians and citizens around the world, including the many parents who feel your anguish at being separated from your children. While understanding the sensitivities of protesting in a place of worship, we ask that the Russian authorities review these harsh sentences, so that you may return to your children, your families and your lives.

The right to freedom of expression and dissent is a legitimate one and essential in any kind of democracy. You have been accused of what could be described as ‘a victimless’ crime, but in our opinion, in a just society, there can be no crime where there is no identifiable ‘victim’.

Your strength, bravery and fearlessness are an inspiration to us all.

Yours in solidarity,

Bryan Adams, Adele, Alt-J, Laurie Anderson, Animal Collective, Anti-Flag, Arcade Fire, Arch Enemy, Archive, Joan Armatrading, Joan Baez, Beardyman, Jeff Beck, Yasiin Bey, björk, Rubén Blades, Billy Bragg, Jackson Browne, Peter Buck, Tracy Chapman, Chase & Status, Neneh Cherry, The Clash, Coldplay, Lily Rose Cooper, Dido, Django Django, Melissa Etheridge, Siobhan Fahey, Paloma Faith, First Aid Kit, Franz Ferdinand, Foster the People, fun., Peter Gabriel, Sir Bob Geldof, Kim Gordon, Debbie Harry, PJ Harvey, Don Henley, The Hidden Cameras, Niall Horan, Billy Joel, Sir Elton John, Ke$ha, Angelique Kidjo, The Knife, Mark Knopfler, Tom Lehrer, Sean Lennon, Annie Lennox, Lykke Li, Sir Paul McCartney, Romy Madley-Croft, Madonna, Zayn Malik, Stephen Malkmus, Marina & the Diamonds, Johnny Marr, Massive Attack, Mike Mills, Moby, Thurston Moore, Tom Morello, Alanis Morissette, James Morrison, Graham Nash, Kate Nash, Youssou N’Dour, Karen O, Yoko Ono, Clock Opera, Ozzy Osbourne, Liam Payne, Peaches, Joe Perry, Phoenix, Portishead, Portugal. The Man, Rain Phoenix, Cat Power, Radiohead, Bonnie Raitt, Rise Against, Patti Scialfa, Scissor Sisters, Paul Simon, Sleigh Bells, Patti Smith, Esperanza Spalding, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Stewart, Sting, Michael Stipe, Harry Styles, Neil Tennant, Louis Tomlinson, Pete Townshend, K T Tunstall, U2, Eddie Vedder.

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