CBGB Hand Delivers Letter in Support of Pussy Riot to Moscow's Prosecutor General's Office on Behalf of Amnesty International Human Rights Organization Calls Upon the Iconic Punk Institution CBGB to Help Free Imprisoned Women, Meet with Family Members & Legal Defense Team

NEW YORK, Aug. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The legendary punk institution CBGB, www.cbgb.com, has traveled to Moscow to lobby on behalf of imprisoned members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot. Over the past four days, Tim Hayes and Louise Parnassa Staley of CBGB met with the women's family members, the legal defense team, organizing leaders and others.

(Photo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120829/NY65215 )

On Monday, August 27, Hayes and Parnassa Staley hand delivered a joint Amnesty International USA - CBGB petition letter to the guards at the fortified Prosecutor General's Office in the Russian capital. The duo from CBGB enlisted International artists / friends to sign the letter, including Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Anthony Bourdain, Patti Schemel of Hole, Bun E. Carlos and the family of Joey Ramone, adding to the more than 100,000 people who have taken action with AIUSA in support of Pussy Riot.

"Music can be an enormously powerful vehicle for non-violent political expression," said Hayes. "The young women of Pussy Riot have proven this better than anyone in recent history. As a result of their thought provoking performance, they have become unwilling prisoners of conscience, galvanizing hundreds of thousands to reaffirm basic freedoms."

(Excerpt from the official AIUSA / CBGB letter)

All across the world, music is considered a laudable vehicle of self-expression, whether as an expression of love, of sadness, or political belief and protest. The musical performance of Pussy Riot in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral was just that – a means through which these women publicly and peacefully shared their political views. The Russian authorities' subsequent response to this act is beyond severe and completely unjustifiable. 

On August 17, three members of the feminist collective were found guilty of "hooliganism on the grounds of religious hatred" for their February protest song "Virgin Mary, Redeem Us of Putin," in Moscow's main Orthodox.  Pussy Riot lawyers have said they will appeal the verdict, which carries a two-year prison sentence in a notoriously brutal forced labor penal colony, which places the activists at dire risk of physical and sexual abuse.  

While attending a pro-Pussy Riot rally in Moscow on Saturday night, Hayes and Parnassa Staley had a few moments with iconic Russian chess champion Gary Kasporov.  According to personal accounts from Hayes, Mr. Kasporov (a well known critic of Vladimar Putin) was visibly shaken and nervous as armed Russian authorities stood nearby monitoring the event.  "The Pussy Riot supporters were determined to remain peaceful on Saturday but the tension hanging in the air was overwhelming," said Parnassa Staley.  "After hours of intimidation, the Russian police eventually moved in to announce with blow-horns that the rally was illegal."

The Pussy Riot case is emblematic of a larger crackdown on freedom of speech and expression in Russia.  The group's lead singer Nadezhda Tolokonnikova compared the trial to Stalin-era trials and sharply criticized Russia's legal apparatus.

Amnesty International has declared Maria, Yekaterina and Nadezhda prisoners of conscience, and has repeatedly called on Russian authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges and release the women. The human rights organization has partnered with legendary CBGB to underscore the belief that injustice anywhere, against anyone, is a threat to justice everywhere.

For more information on how to show support and learn more, please visit www.amnestyusa.org.

SOURCE CBGB



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