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Madonna stands by Pussy Riot

Thursday, Feb 06, 2014 - 00:33

Feb. 06 - The pop star joined the band on stage at Amnesty International's ''Bringing Human Rights Home'' concert. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)

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PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS PROFANITY ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Two members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot took to a New York stage on Wednesday evening (February 5) to demand the release of anti-government prisoners as Russia prepares to open the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Russian President Vladimir Putin has staked his reputation on the Sochi Games. But Russia has come under pressure by human rights activists in the months leading up to the games for its intolerance of political dissent and a law passed last year banning promotion of homosexuality among minors. "Russia will be free!," chanted Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina as they appeared on stage after being introduced by Madonna. Their appearance was part of Amnesty International's "Bringing Human Rights Home" concert which included celebrities and human rights activists like Bob Geldof and Yoko Ono. The case of Pussy Riot, in particular, had sparked a global outcry. In 2012, Tolokonnikova, aged 24, and Maria Alyokhina, aged 25, were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after storming Moscow's biggest Orthodox cathedral and beseeching the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of President Vladimir Putin. After nearly two years behind bars, Putin granted them amnesty in December. Before speaking at the concert, the pair met with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power to discuss "disturbing" trends in Russia, prompting a retort from Moscow's U.N. envoy. At the concert, the pair sought to draw attention to the fate of eight Russian demonstrators who will be sentenced later this month after being charged with mass disorder at a 2012 protest against Putin. While Pussy Riot did not perform, R&B singer Lauryn Hill, Blondie, and the alternative rock groups Imagine Dragons and Cake played at the all-star concert at a packed Barclays Center in Brooklyn. While in the United States, Pussy Riot plan to visit prisons and meet with related non-governmental organizations to gain insight into how the Russian prison system might be improved. The women made a similar trip to Holland, but said they could not imagine that Russian prisons would ever resemble Dutch facilities, which Tolokonnikova described as "a universe apart." The event marked the return of a global concert series that Nobel Peace Prize-winning Amnesty International began 25 years ago, which has featured such rock greats as U2, Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Lou Reed.

Madonna stands by Pussy Riot

Thursday, Feb 06, 2014 - 00:33

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