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Paul McCartney Supports Pussy Riot in Letters to Russian Authorities

Rocker asks officials to parole the imprisoned punk protestors

May 23, 2013 8:55 AM ET
Paul McCartney performs in Orlando, Florida.
Paul McCartney performs in Orlando, Florida.
Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

Paul McCartney has written to Russian authorities in support of Pussy Riot as one member yesterday began a hunger strike after she was barred from attending her own parole hearing in person. The former Beatle sent handwritten letters on behalf of Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, asking Russian officials to consider parole for the incarcerated women.

"My personal belief is that further incarceration for Maria will be harmful for her and the situation as a whole, which, of course, is being watched by people all over the world," McCartney wrote, according to a portion of the letter posted on his website.

Jailed Pussy Riot Member Starts Hunger Strike

McCartney's letter continues: "In the great tradition of fair-mindedness which the Russian people (many of whom are my friends) are famous for, I believe that you granting this request would send a very positive message to all the people who have followed this case."

The rocker voiced support for Tolokonnikova in a separate letter, writing, "I have had a long relationship with the Russian people, and, with this in mind, I am making the following request in a spirit of friendship for my many Russian acquaintances who, like me, believe in treating people – all people, with compassion and kindness."

Alyokhina and bandmates Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich were sentenced to two years in prison last August after they were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious contempt for staging a protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main cathedral in February 2012. Samutsevich was later freed on appeal, while Tolokonnikova's recent bid for parole was denied.

McCartney has voiced support for Pussy Riot in the past, along with other musicians including Madonna, who called for Pussy Riot's release at a Moscow show in August. 

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