Pussy Riot rockers thank Madonna, burn image of Vladimir Putin
Several remaining members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot thanked Madonna and burned an image of Vladimir Putin in a new video.
In the video, which can be seen below and was produced for MTV to use during the Video Music Awards on Thursday, the women are shown in climbing gear, scaling the side of a building which has a Pussy Riot poster and photos of Putin and his ally Alexander Lukashenko.
The musicians, wearing the bands trademark uniform of bright ski masks, short skirts and tights, thank musicians like Madonna, Green Day, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bjork for their support.
They are then shown lighting Putin's portrait on fire before saying, "The fight for freedom is an endless battle that is bigger than life."
Three of their fellow band mates were recently sentenced to 2 years in jail for "hooliganism" during a surprise performance at Moscow's main cathedral as part of a protest against President Vladimir Putin.
The case generated worldwide interest, partially due to expressions of support by musicians such as Paul McCartney, Sting, Bjork, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Madonna, who wore a shirt bearing the band's name at one of her recent concerts in Moscow.
A judge said at the band's sentencing on August 17 that the three rockers - Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alekhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30 - were guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, adding that they had deliberately offended Russian Orthodox believers when they stormed the altar of the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow in February, Reuters reported.
The band members wore their trademark look at their demonstration, during which they asked the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin, who was re-elected a month later in March for a third term. The group says they were protesting against Putin's close ties with the church.
Tolokonnikova had said in court earlier this month that the band's "punk prayer" in the church was a political statement and not an expression of hate against Orthodox Christians.
"We sang 'Black habit, gold shoulder straps' about the fusion of KGB and the church," Rolling Stone quoted her as saying. "Our goal was political protest in artistic form. There was no hate, not a drop."
The women, who have already spent five months behind bars since their February arrest, giggled as the judge read out the sentences, Reuters added.
McCartney posted a photo message on his Twitter page in support of the group, writing, "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."
In addition to support from singers and musicians, "Clueless" actress and vegan animal activist Alicia Silverstone recently made a different plea, directly to the Russian president, with regard to the case.
"Dear President Putin," she wrote in a letter provided by PETA UK. "I have been following the trial involving three members of the band Pussy Riot. As a vegan myself, I was deeply concerned to learn that one of the women, Maria Alekhina, who is a vegan, reportedly collapsed from hunger during a court session. I respectfully request you to ensure that vegan meals are available to Ms. Alekhina - and all prisoners."