Image An appeal for release by the three imprisoned members of feminist punk collective Pussy Riot was dismissed by a Moscow court this week, The Moscow Times reports. The three women (Maria Alyokhina, 24, Yekaterina Samutsevich, 19, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22) were arrested in early March, and were subsequently charged with 'aggravated hooliganism' and denied bail, following their anti-Putin protest at Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral in February.
The trio have attracted thousands of supporters from around the world, and a good many of some influence within Russia itself. Of these, perhaps the most obviously influential is Alexander Lebedev, the Russian billionaire owner of the Novaya Gazeta (New Gazette) newspaper, as well as the London newspaper The Independent. Mr. Lebedev, who worked for the KGB's Foreign Intelligence Service until 1992, was described in an October 2009 column by Guardian journalist Ian Cobain as 'one of the few prominent Russians who seems able to make personal attacks on Putin in public without fear of recrimination'. The Moscow Times reports that Mr. Lebedev is calling for an increase in the public outcry within Russia, saying:

Don't be indifferent. We have no other options at the moment. Sign a petition. You don't have to take to the streets. (‚?¶) Instead of exchanging meaningless information on VKontakte (a social networking site), take a stand.

While some of Pussy Riot's supporters are arguably unsurprising (for example, Lyudmila Ulitskaya and opposition leader Ilya Yashin), some of the high profile individuals speaking out in the womens' defense include supporters of Putin's Presidential campaign, like the actor Chulpan Khamatova and celebrated figure skater Yevgeny Plyushchenko. Also of note is a letter from actor and Orthodox priest Ivan Okhlobystin to Patriarch Kirill (head of the Russian Orthodox Church), calling on the Patriarch to call for the womens' release.

While several Russian media outlets have covered the case, and the high profile supporters of the women, in some detail, including the names of the various celebrities and political and religious leaders in their coverage, coverage from Russia's state-owned international broadcasting network, Russia Today, has been decidedly less detailed. The network (described as 'unashamedly pro-Vladimir Putin' by the Guardian's ex-Russia correspondent Luke Harding) posted a decidedly sparcer piece on recent developments in the case than many of it's journalistic competitors. You can read said piece here.

Meanwhile, questions about the case have been raised in the United Kingdom's Houses of Parliament. The Parliamentary record of written questions for the 9th of July, 2012, records the following exchange between Kerry McCarthy (Clash fan, and Labour MP for Bristol East), and David Lidington, (Minister for Europe, and Conservative MP for Aylesbury).

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations his Department has made to Russia on the jailing of members of the punk band Pussy Riot. [115916]

Mr Lidington: We are extremely concerned about the continued detention of three members of the band Pussy Riot, who have been held in pre-trial detention for almost four months. The severity of the Russian authorities‚?? response‚??detention on the serious criminal charge of hooliganism‚??appears to be disproportionate to the manner in which they expressed their political beliefs. Amnesty International has classified the members of Pussy Riot as "Prisoners of Conscience".

The Government has repeatedly expressed its serious concern to the Russian Government over attempts to limit freedom of assembly. We will continue to call on the Russian Government to protect the right to legitimate protest and will raise this case at our UK-Russia Bilateral Human Rights Dialogue on 13 July.

Away from the workings of state, and closer to our usual musical remit, Alice Bag (The Bags) has been posting regular updates on the case to her Tumblr page, as well as adding details of international solidarity with the imprisoned women as and when she finds them. You can keep pace with that here.

Also, Faith No More played in Moscow last Monday night, and invited members of the Pussy Riot collective onto the stage in solidarity with the detained trio, before launching into a rendition of their hit satirical single 'We Care A Lot'. You can read details of the performance here, and check out a video of the proceedings below.


Bands in this story