19 April 2012, 19:56
Jailing of Russian rock musicians "disproportionate" measure - Amnesty Intl officer
Moscow, April 19, Interfax - Amnesty International demands "unconditional release" of the three women rock musicians arrested for a scandalous performance inside Moscow's main church in which they sang a song praying for the ouster of Prime Minister and President-elect Vladimir Putin, the head of the international rights group's Russian office said on Thursday.
"Amnesty International has been calling and is continuing to call for the unconditional release of these three young women. We believe that they have a right to freedom of expression," Sergey Nikitin told Interfax.
The three women, who are in a detention center in Moscow, are members of the Pussy Riot punk rock band. Their performance inside the Cathedral of Christ the Savior on February 21, in which they had masks covering their faces, set off a powerful public outcry.
"The measures that the Russian authorities are using appear to us to be absolutely disproportionate and very severe. These three women must be released immediately and unconditionally as prisoners of conscience," Nikitin said.
Earlier, Amnesty International declared the three women to be prisoners of conscience.
On Thursday, Moscow's Tagansky Court extended the term of arrest for one of them, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, until June 24. Police have asked for the other two, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, to have their detention terms to be extended as well.
Lyudmila Alexeyeva, leader of the Moscow Helsinki Group, also called on Thursday for the three women's release.
"It was the wrong idea to arrest them in the first place. They must naturally be released. What they've done doesn't mean they deserved to be jailed for such a long time," Alexeyeva told Interfax.