Almost a month after three members of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot were found guilty of "hooliganism" and sentenced to two years in prison, Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev said Wednesday that they should be released. Although Medvedev said he finds them 'nauseating,' he also said further imprisonment would be "unproductive."
Musicians, activists and human rights groups worldwide have been standing in solidarity with the Pussy Riot members both online and in the streets. In light of the proximity of Medvedev's comments and the band members' appeal date, October 1, the international community rallying around the slogan "Free Pussy Riot" may finally win.
In a case that has shed international light on the Russian government's intolerance of dissent, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, and Marina Alyokhina, 24, have been in jail since March, when they were arrested after performing (video) a "punk prayer" on the altar of Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral in dissent of Vladimir Putin. The members entered the church wearing bright colors and balaclavas, singing "Mother of God, Blessed Virgin, drive out Putin!" The band members said their intent was to challenge the Church's political support for Putin and to show their dissatisfaction with Putin's 12-year political dominance.
Today news also broke that the European Parliament has nominated Tolokonnikova, Samutsevich, and Alyokhina for the "freedom of thought" award, or the Sakharov Prize, for special contribution to the protection of human rights. The prestigious award is named after Soviet human rights activist Andrei Sakharov, and comes with a 50,000 euro award. The winner of the prize will be announced in December. Its first recipients were Nelson Mandela and Soviet dissident Anatoly Marchenko in 1988.
Media Resources: Feminist Daily Newswire 8/17/12; New York Times 9/12/12; Associated Press 9/12/12; RIA Novosti 9/14/12; USA Today 9/14/12