2012-04-04 10:03:00

Amnesty International recognizes jailed punk band members as prisoners of conscience

Moscow, April 4, Interfax - Amnesty International has recognized the members of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot, arrested for their scandalous performance at the Christ the Savior Cathedral, as prisoners of conscience.

"Even if the three arrested women did take part in the action, such severe response measures by the Russian authorities as taking them into custody on charges of such a serious crime as disorderly conduct are an unjustifiably tough reaction to a peaceful, although insulting to many people, expression of their political views. Hence, these three women can be considered prisoners of conscience," Sergey Nikitin, the head of the Amnesty International office in Russia, told Interfax.

"Amnesty International calls for immediate and unconditional release of the three young women whom the Russian authorities have arrested as members of the punk band Pussy Riot and who performed a protest song in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow on February 21," Nikitin said.

Pussy Riot, an all-girl punk group, sang an anti-Putin song at the Christ the Savior Cathedral on February 21, calling it a "punk prayer." A video of the "concert" swiftly spread through the Internet. Police opened a criminal case against the singers on disorderly conduct charges. Three singers, i.e. Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekatrina Santsevich, were later detained, and courts ruled that they will remain in custody at least until April 24.

The Pussy Riot action caused a broad public response and has become a matter of controversy. The Russian Orthodox Church and a larger part of Russian believers demanded that the feminists be punished, but quite a numerous group of Orthodox believers called for pardoning them.