A group of leading musicians has called on Russia's president Vladimir Putin to give a fair hearing to members of a protest group held for months on remand for performing a legitimate protest .
The trio from Pussy Riot staged a
performance in a Moscow cathedral calling on the Virgin Mary to remove President Putin from power.
In a letter to The Times newspaper, the group of British musicians including Jarvis Cocker, Pete Townshend, Martha Wainwright and Neil Tennant, said
that the incident by the band amounted to a minor breach of the peace .
Requesting the release of the three protestors a statement said:
We are extremely concerned about the treatment they have received
since their arrest and during their trial.
Dissent is a right in any democracy and it is entirely disproportionate that they face seven years in jail for what we consider a preposterous charge of "hooliganism motivated by
We are especially concerned about recent reports that food is being withheld from them and that they have appeared in court in a cage.
The backing of British musicians comes after other
celebrities including pop star Sting and US rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers had showed support for their plight.
Today we are taking a stand as the international community against the outright attack on human rights and free speech underway in a Russian courtroom. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria
Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich -- the three young female musicians who formed the punk rock band Pussy Riot -- face up to 7 years in prison for a peaceful anti-Putin protest that the all-girl group staged in Moscow's main Orthodox church last
February. Though all three women apologized to Russian Orthodox believers who were offended, they staunchly defend their right to speak out against the Putin regime's absolute intolerance of political dissent as well as its persecution of the Russian
Despite wide international concern for these bold young activist and national outrage over their 5-month long detention, the latest hearing clearly demonstrates that the court is determined to adopt a severe
attitude to the performers. These women are clearly not imprisoned for a real crime, but for being critical of your government and expressing the feelings and ideas of many Russian citizens.
Moreover, it is a standard legal
principle worldwide that punishment must be proportional to the offense. Criminal charges against Pussy Riot are grossly disproportionate to their peaceful protest. In truth, it is a thinly veiled attempt to crack down on political dissent.
We demand that you comply with internationally recognized democratic principles by releasing the detainees and immediately ceasing these unjust criminal proceedings!
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