Time is Running Out for Pussy Riot

members of pussy riot

Yekaterina Samutsevich, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Maria Alyokhina could face three years in prison after they called for Vladimir Putin’s ouster in a song. (Photo AFP/GettyImages)

We thought we had more time. Sadly, the latest reports are saying that we may only have less than a week to stop Russian prosecutors from pursuing the outrageous charges against feminist punk band, Pussy Riot.

These young women are in serious danger of being shipped off to a labor camp, where they risk both physical and sexual abuse as prosecutors seek a 3-year sentence against them. There is no time to lose (take action here now).

Why? Because their punk rock band gave a politically charged and impromptu performance poking fun at President Putin at a cathedral.

But don’t judge these women too harshly. At least that’s what Putin said himself in a stunning statement Thursday:

“There is nothing good in what they did [but] I don’t think they should be judged too severely.”

However, Putin’s words have not yet translated into action. Three years incarceration is still a very real possibility. A verdict is expected to be handed down Tuesday, August 17.

Say what you will about Pussy Riot: this may not be your kind of music. Some people find their shows offensive.

But it doesn’t change the facts: Since March, these young women have been in jail and kept from their families, including small children, and they are being threatened with seven years imprisonment – all because of a peaceful protest song that lasted less than a minute.

pussy riot

Members of Pussy Riot perform on a platform in front of St Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, Moscow.

Amnesty International considers these women to be prisoners of conscience, and we are not going to give up on them. Sadly, members of Pussy Riot aren’t the only ones getting caught up in the backlash against dissidents in Russia lately. One of Putin’s fiercest critics, blogger Alexei Navalny, was charged last week with embezzlement, a crime that could carry up to a 10-year prison sentence.

The crackdown doesn’t stop there. In recent weeks, President Putin and his cronies have moved swiftly to limit street protests by enforcing hefty fines and re-criminalizing some forms of defamation.

Human rights abuses have continued unabated in the country, with a startling suppression of freedom of expression and assembly­—an admission made by both human rights organizations and the U.S. State Department, most recently in the 2011 Country Report on Human Rights Practices.  In his ever-reaching tenure, Putin has helped create a system that meets the performers of a protest song with charges of hooliganism on the grounds of religious hate.

Some high-profile musicians are also taking action in solidarity. During recent concerts in Russia, rockers Sting, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Franz Ferdinand all called on the Russian authorities to free Pussy Riot and respect freedom of expression. Madonna, Peter Gabriel and Pete Townshend of The Who have voiced their support too.

It is not hard to spot other Pussy Riot supporters – bright tights, colorful dresses and faces covered by balaclavas. At our protests outside the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC, we’re using multi-colored ski masks – check out our pictures!

We need your help to convince Russian prosecutors to drop the charges against the band. Even if you’ve already taken action, please send a message now. Say it loud, say it proud: Free Pussy Riot!

Update: This post was updated 8/8/12 to reflect a new verdict date

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40 thoughts on “Time is Running Out for Pussy Riot

  1. We in Canada have the freedom of speech. We believe it is wrong to imprison someone for verbalizing their thoughts or the written word. These young women must be freed to join their families. It should be the right of all mankind to speak freely or why do we have mouths and voices?
    Freedom for Pussy Riot NOW!

    • I do agree with you and I commend you. However, as a Canadian as well I have to say that unfortunately the freedom of speech and opinion and the freedom of peaceful assembly as stated in The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is slowly being eliminated by "reasonable" limitations (laws that conflict with The Charter must be "reasonable" as stated in Section 1 of The Charter but this is not always the case). Prime examples of the so called "reasonable" laws that unreasonably limit the fundamental freedoms of all Canadians are seen in the incidents during the Canadian Occupy Movement, Toronto G20 summit and the enforcement of Bill 78 during the Quebec Student protests. What Pussy Riot did empowers me as a woman and as we acknowledge and challenge the issues around the world we must also remember to acknowledge and challenge the issues at home.

  2. are you kidding ? i dont know this band,but imprisonment for that ? wow what a messed up system. friggin free the pussys !!

  3. Before too long this will be a normal occurance even in the United States. Just say the Patriot Act…

  4. What a complete shame! It makes me sick that they have been detained this long and could face 3 years for voicing an opinion. An OPINION! Just words! What did they do wrong? Nothing.

    "These young women are in serious danger of being shipped off to a labor camp, where they risk both physical and sexual abuse" Does that seem like an appropriate consequence for voicing an opinion?
    It's absolutely horrible treatment and completely inhumane.

  5. but for the record do not ever disrespect a holy church again! no need for jail time but maybe a minor punishment

  6. It was not just words. Their action looks like a dance at USA holy flag.

    The bitches must be punished. Stop to spread your double standards.

  7. They are charged for unauthorized intrusion and action inside the church which offended the religious people. FOR THIS they may be punished AND NOT FOR THEIR PROTESTS OR SONGS against Putin. Note the difference between the facts and what you're discussing here. I'm definitely NOT a supporter of Russian government, but the real problem is in the girls' dishonour to THE CHURCH, NOT PUTIN. Stop your hysteria about "imprisonment for the song". It's just NOT TRUE. "It's certainly wrong to imprison someone for verbalizing their thoughts or the written word" – you couldn't say better? YES of course. But this is NOT the AGENDA of the court. They had no right TO INTRUDE in the church and make bad behaviour & insulting language actions OFFENSIVE FOR RELIGION in the church. I'm NOT a robot, I'm Orthdoxal Christian and I value the reputation of my confession and will protect it from hooligans. Please stop your attacks on my religion, sure you'll be ashamed of it sooner or later.

    • If I'm not mistaken the idea of free speech isn't limited to… Well anything. Whether its speech against religion or it's views. Sure breaking and entering is worth a night or two in jail and/or a slap on the wrist but not imprisonment. I have to say I find it funny how people always fall back on there religious views as a defense for their actions or others. I'm no atheis, and in fact I am quite spiritual, but to me religion is just another tool of man.

  8. People should be free to criticize (or make fun of) all kinds of beliefs. Religious beliefs are no more worthy of protection than political beliefs.

  9. Nobody pays me for expressing my thoughts and opinions. They are MINE. Talk to your priest and ask his opinion on what they've done and if you're non-believer, then talk to your conscience.

  10. I feel insulted by their behaviour, this is why I write here. The opposition in Russia and western media POLITICISE this case, but there is NO politics here – it's just another disgraceful attack on Orthodox Church. You'd better get more informed about this case.

  11. They did their so called criticizing before and they continue their criticizing even in prison. But criticizing and insulting are different things. Also how can they criticize if their knowledge of religion is close to ZERO? And also there is a PRINCIPAL difference between criticizing some priests and insulting THE RELIGION.

    • Because of people like you there is war in this world. You obviously don't understand your own religion. You should feel very ashamed of having such a narrow minded opinion. Want to be religious? Then start learning to act with your heart instead of judging people's opinions. That's not what God is teaching us. Be blessed and I hope you find your peace.

  12. The Patriarchs of the Church insult all believers by telling them to support Putin. THAT is what is offensive and THAT is why Pussy Riot was praying to The Virgin Mary for desperate help. I believe she heard the prayers and is going to SMASH PATRIARCHY! #Femen #FreePussyRiot PS. that 'holy church' used to be a swimming pool not too long ago so save your holy outrage.

  13. They're saying what they want to say. You're saying what you want to say. You aren't imprisoned for it and neither should they be. Offence is no argument at all. In the words of Stephen Fry – "…so fucking what?"

  14. La legge Italiana prevede fino a 7 anni di galera per offesa al capo dello stato in quanto riguarda blasfemia in chiesa e luogo sacro sicuramente e altrettanto una grave condanna da parte sia dal Vaticano sia dallo stato. Il mondo ipocrito di queste strutture speso sostenute con i soldi dai loro governi, vari servizi segreti come GLADIO, CIA,… e così via senza altro nn andranno con lo stessa premura a difendere DIRITI DELLE DONNE in Arabia Saudita… USA va in qualsiasi paese del mondo ad arrestare la gente solo per SOSPETTO per portarli a Guant Alamo dove gli tengono senza processi quanto vogliono e nn si protesta con questa premura…

  15. Desde Bogotá Colombia que viva la libertad de expresión que viva pussy riot abajo Putin . Mario f Girón que viva la libertaD

  16. Give the Pussy Riots refuge in Australia! You say don't judge them to harsh PUTIN ! step up to the mark and let them out, its another step to your downfall you prick.

  17. CIAmnesty, there is only hatred here. Everything you do regarding those "punk-rockers" (they are NOT rockers, and they are NOT punks) serves the interests of imperial America only, in reality you don't give a damn about human rights or anything like this. You just found a way to pour out your hatred towards Russia, government, church, people – everything except for a bunch of shitty ignorant talentless misguided hooligans – because they serve those who don't want Russia to be a strong country with strong government, strong economy and strong people. This is why you like them so much, all the rest is demagogy. Now I see it SO clearly. Bye bye, CIAmnesy.

  18. PUSSY RIOT – ОСВОБОДИТ – РЕВОЛЮЦИЯ!

    FREE PUSSY RIOT!

    Участниц панк-группы Pussy Riot судят за – призыв – к Церкви: не пускать – Антихриста – в Храм Христа Спасителя!

    Это – правда!

    Путин – Антихрист!

    За – эту – правду, их хотят посадить на семь лет!

    Только, после свержения Путина, они – станут – свободными; и это случится, я надеюсь, в этом году!

    Pussy Riot – освободит – революция!

    FREE PUSSY RIOT!

    Святогор

    8.08.12

    V

    ПОБЕДА БУДЕТ ЗА НАМИ!

  19. Bravo Putin! Spero che le prossime siano quelle troione delle femen, in un bel carcere africano, a raddrizzare le banane, per 10 anni!