Russia’s Prime Minister Agrees: Free Pussy Riot!

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ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/GettyImages

ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/GettyImages

After being sentenced to two years in prison for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred,” members of Russian feminist punk rock outfit Pussy Riot could very well be on the verge of being released, thanks to the country’s Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev.

Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested and sentenced to two years behind bars on February 21 of this year after performing a spirited demonstration/“punk prayer” in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour that included a passage calling for the Virgin Mary to get rid of Russian President Vladimir Putin (hence the “religious hatred” of the charges).

The fallout from the arrests were immediate and plentiful, with a stream of music artists including Madonna, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day and Paul McCartney protesting the arrest and calling for the release of the jailed band members. The two members of Pussy Riot who were able to avoid arrest acknowledged the support with a gonzo video thanking the artists for their solidarity by rappelling down the side of a building, displaying a Pussy Riot banner and setting fire to a portrait of President Putin.

According to the Associated Press, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that continuing to hold the rockers would be “unproductive,” and called for their release.

“In my view, a suspended sentence would be sufficient, taking into account the time they have already spent in custody,” Medvedev said during a meeting with fellow officials that was shown on Russian TV. With the case coming up for appeal at the beginning of next month, the women could be freed as soon as October 1.

In more Pussy Riot news, The City University of New York’s Feminist Press recently announced the upcoming release of an e-book on the band. Titled Pussy Riot! A Punk Prayer for Freedom, the book will be a collection of essays by the likes of Yoko Ono, Karen Finley and JD Samson.

–Scott T. Sterling, CBS Local

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