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Paul McCartney Voices Support for Jailed Russian Band Pussy Riot

Beatle tweets message encouraging rockers to 'stay strong'

Paul McCartney performs during the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in London.
Lars Baron/Getty Images
August 16, 2012 11:40 AM ET

Paul McCartney tweeted a message of support today for jailed Russian punk trio Pussy Riot, who await the verdict in their trial for performing an anti-Putin "punk prayer" in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral. 

Addressing group members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, McCartney wrote, "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."

Pussy Riot have been imprisoned since early March following their performance. A verdict is expected tomorrow, closing out proceedings that have been marked by protests and is seen by many as a political show trial meant to warn against challenging the authority of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Many people in the civilized world are allowed to voice their opinions and as long as they do not hurt anyone in doing so I believe this is the best way forward for all societies," McCartney continued. "I hope you can stay strong and believe that I and many others like me who believe in free speech will do everything in our power to support you and the idea of artistic freedom."

Prosecutors are calling for a three-year prison sentence, though the defense hopes for a more lenient punishment. Expecting guilty verdict, the defense recently called for worldwide rallies to support Pussy Riot tomorrow.

McCartney joins a long list of musicians who have come out in support of Pussy Riot, including Madonna, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Patti Smith, Sting, Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna, Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker, Beastie Boy Adam "Ad Rock" Horovitz and many more. Just yesterday, Canadian electro-punk artist Peaches released a video for a track she co-wrote called "Free Pussy Riot." She's giving the song away for free, though any donations will go to help Pussy Riot pay their lawyer fees.

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