Amnesty International has called for the immediate release of three members of a Russian feminist punk band who face up to seven years in prison for performing in a church.
The global human rights watchdog said it did not know if the detained women were in fact members of the Pussy Riot band because the group performed all its protest songs wearing balaclavas.
“Even if the three arrested women did take part in the protest,the severity of the response of the Russian authorities… would not be a justifiable response to the
peaceful if,to many,offensive expression of their political beliefs,” Amnesty International said in a statement yesterday.
“They would therefore be prisoners of conscience.”
Five members of the radical group climbed on the altar of Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral — the country’s central place of worship — on February 21 and sang a song they called a “Punk Prayer” before being seized by guards.
The song’s lyrics called for the Virgin Mary to “drive out (president-elect Vladimir) Putin” and to “become a feminist”.
The three women have been charged with hooliganism committed by an organised group an unusually harsh charge for protesters.