Musicians pose support for Russian punk band Pussy Riot

(From right) Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, members of the punk trio Pussy Riot, sit in the courtroom ‘aquarium’ at a court hearing in Khamovniki district court (Khamovnichesky court) in Moscow, Russia on Aug. 17, 2012. The judge sentenced the members to two years in prison each on hooliganism charges for performing an anti-Putin song at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior on Feb. 21, 2012. (Sergei Karpov/Itar-Tass/Abaca Press/MCT)

Three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in prison last Friday, Aug. 17, for their participation in a protest performance against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The young women, two of whom are mothers, were charged with “hooliganism,” defined in Russian penal codes as “any deliberate behavior that violates public order and expresses explicit disrespect toward society.”

In the days leading up to their trial and after it, some of the world’s biggest music stars have spoken out in support of the three and in opposition to the harsh punishment, providing the media with a slew of sound bites that are making the rounds online.

Madonna: No stranger to controversy herself — there was that whole burning crosses thing and her coffee table book, “Sex” — Madonna said, “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,”

While some artists remain reluctant to get tangled up in politics, Madonna’s statement not only offered support for the group but called on all artists to create art for more than mere entertainment.

“Art should always be political,” she said.

Paul McCartney: McCartney published a letter to the women on his website, addressing them by their first names.

“Many people in the civilized world are allowed to voice their opinions and as long as they do no hurt anyone, I believe this is the best way forward for all societies,” he said.

It’s a statement that supported free speech and disagrees with the labeling of Pussy Riot’s music as hate speech.

Sting: Sting joined Amnesty International in condemning the treatment of Pussy Riot by Russian authorities.

His plea for the “spurious charges” to be dropped and for the women to “get back to the lives and their children” was disheartening to read in the wake of the sentencing.

Sting said that modern politicians must learn to tolerate dissent within a democracy.

“A sense of proportion – and a sense of humor – is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness,” he said.  

KISS: Singer and bassist Gene Simmons couldn’t resist the opportunity to voice his opinion about the band’s look and sound when he spoke out in support of their right to free expression, The Mail and The Guardian reported.

“They’re very pretty girls. It is not a good band, but they have the right to do whatever they want to do,” he said in a statement.

 

Reach the reporter at jrpallas@asu.edu