There's no gentle way to type this band's name, so we may as well just out with it: Pussy Riot is an all-female punk band/collective from Russia whose name you may have heard in connection with the incarceration of three of its members in March for having publicly demonstrated against controversial Russian President Vladimir Putin. Their jailing caused an international stir, which was whipped up even further last Friday when a Moscow judge ruled that the three band members—Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich—will remain in custody until January. Now fellow rock musicians from around the world are speaking up in the women's defense.
Franz Ferdinand and Red Hot Chili Peppers have voiced support for the jailed members of feminist punk collective Pussy Riot.
Three members of the band - Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich - have been in pre-trial detention since March of this year, after they staged a protest against Russian President Vladmir Putin. On Friday (July 20), a court ruled that the three women will remain in custody until January 12, 2013.
"This is for the girls in Pussy Riot," Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos told the crowd at Sunday's Afisha Picnic, introducing the song 'This Fire'. "[It] is dedicated to all of those musicians that end up in jail for just saying what they think," The Guardianreports.
He then took to Twitter to criticise the Russian president, writing: "Please show your support for the jailed members of the band Pussy Riot, even if you are not a fan of their music. I'm sure you are all fans of their right to express their opinion. Any world leader who claims to be a fan of The Beatles and John Lennon, then attempts to imprison contemporary musicians who express their political views, is the worst kind of hypocrite: a dangerous one."
Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis and Flea also spoke out on Sunday, during their gig at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. Keidis wore a Pussy Riot T-shirt, and both artists presented a letter to one of the women's husbands, which reportedly read: "Nadya and Katya and Masha, we love you, we love to support you and are here to help you."
Pussy Riot face up to seven years in jail on hooliganism charges after they were arrested following an impromptu performance at Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral, where they sang a song called 'Holy Shit' as a protest against the Orthodox Christian church's alleged support for Putin. Although Putin regained power in the last Russian election, the verdict has been marred by accusations of fraud by his competitors.
Shortly before their arrest, members of Pussy Riot spoke to NME, calling Putin's reaction to their church protest "childish". "We knew what the political situation was but now we're personally feeling the full force of Putin's Kafka-esque machine," they said. "The state's policy is based on a minimum of critical thinking and on a maximum of spite, and a desire to get even with those who don't please it."
Amnesty International have called for the release of band members, arguing that they are "prisoners of conscience" and accused the Russian government of punishing them for the "broader political context" of their actions, rather than the actions themselves.