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Russian Artist Sews Mouth Shut to Protest Jailing of Punk Band Pussy Riot

07.26.2012

Pyotr Pavlensky

On July 24, 2012, Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky walked into the Kazansky Cathedral carrying a placard in support of punk rock band Pussy Riot, his mouth sewn shut with red string.

Pavlensky was protesting the prolonged incarceration of three members of Pussy Riot, who allegedly performed an anti-Vladimir Putin song at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral on February 21st, two weeks before March’s presidential vote. In their “punk prayer,” they asked Mother Mary to deliver Russia from Putin’s third presidential term. The following month, three band members were arrested.

Maria Alekhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in jail. AP Photo/Alexander ZemlianichenkoMaria Alehina, Ekaterina Samutsevich, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova have spent the last four months in jail, and the Khamovnichesky Court in Moscow has ruled that the three will remain in detention for another six months. They face up to seven years in jail on charges of hooliganism.

Pavlensky — who also held aloft a sign that stated “Pussy Riot performance was a remake of a famed Jesus Christ’s deed (mf. 21:12-13),” is one of many who have shown support for the band. Sting has condemned the treatment of the women, and recently, during a performance in Russia, Red Hot Chili Peppers vocalist Anthony Kiedis wore a Pussy Riot t-shirt; later, he and Franz Ferdinand vocalist Alex Kapranos sent letters of support to the band.

Amnesty International has said that it considers the three women to be prisoners of conscience “detained solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs.”

“President Putin and his cronies need to stop repressing freedom of speech in Russia and allow these women to return to their families,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “It’s time for Russian authorities to respect the rights of journalists, human rights defenders, musicians, bloggers and ordinary citizens to express themselves.”

“These three activists have now been behind bars for months, awaiting a trial that should not be taking place, ” said Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Programme Director John Dalhuisen.

Artist Pyotr Pavlensky holds a board in support of jailed members of female punk band "Pussy Riot" with his mouth sewn shut during a protest outside the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg. (REUTERS / Trend Photo Agency / Handout)
(via Huffington Post, Artinfo, RT)

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