Paul McCartney is the latest music star to speak out in support of three members of the Russian female punk band Pussy Riot, who've been imprisoned and are being prosecuted for inciting "religious hatred." On stage in Russia, Madonna had called for the group's freedom earlier this month.
McCartney has penned a letter to the jailed band mates and posted the message on his official website.
"I'm writing to show my support for you at this difficult time," he writes. "I would like you to know that I very much hope the Russian authorities would support the principle of free speech for all their citizens and not feel that they have to punish you for your protest. Many people in the civilized world are allowed to voice their opinions and as long as they do not hurt anyone in doing so I believe this is the best way forward for all societies."
He adds, "I hope you can stay strong and believe that I and many others like me who believe in free speech will do everything in our power to support you and the idea of artistic freedom. Wishing you the very best of luck."
In February, Pussy Riot entered Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral and performed a song, which they described as a "punk prayer," that criticized Russian president Vladimir Putin. The following month, three members of the group were arrested and charged with "hooliganism," which can be punishable by up to seven years in prison. A verdict in the women's case is expected to be announced on Friday.
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