Mary McCartney/MPL Communications Ltd.Paul McCartney is the latest music star to speak out in support of three members of the Russian female punk band ***** Riot, who've been imprisoned and are being prosecuted for inciting "religious hatred" because of a performance they staged at an empty Moscow church that's been described as "blasphemous."
In February, ***** Riot entered Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral and proceeded to rock out to a song they describe as a "punk prayer" that includes lyrics imploring the Virgin Mary to help "put [Russian President Vladimir] Putin away." The following month, three members of the group -- Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina -- were ******** and charged with "hooliganism," which can be punishable by up to seven years in prison. A verdict in the women's case is expected to be announced on Friday.
McCartney has penned a letter to the jailed band mates and posted the message on his official website.
"I'm writing to show my support for you at this difficult time," he writes. "I would like you to know that I very much hope the Russian authorities would support the principle of free speech for all their citizens and not feel that they have to punish you for your protest. Many people in the civilized world are allowed to voice their opinions and as long as they do not hurt anyone in doing so I believe this is the best way forward for all societies."
He adds, "I hope you can stay strong and believe that I and many others like me who believe in free speech will do everything in our power to support you and the idea of artistic freedom. Wishing you the very best of luck."
Other musicians who also have voiced their support of ***** Riot include The Who, Sting, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Madonna.
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