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[Brussels, 31 May 2012] Members of Pussy riot, the [in?]famous feminist punk-rock band staging performances against the Vladimir Putin election campaign and standing up for women in Russia have been arrested and are now awaiting trial. Three brave young women - Nadya Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich - risk conviction on charges of aggravated hooliganism and vandalism which could land them seven years in prison. Following an Emergency Motion adopted by our General Assembly on 13 May in Budapest, the EWL calls on the Russian authorities to drop the charges of hooliganism and immediately and unconditionally release the detainees ensuring their protection and that of their families. The EWL also calls on its members and supporters to help free these young activists.
The arrest took place for allegedly performing a protest song in in the Church of Christ the Saviour in Moscow against Vladimir Putin. The protest song criticises the dedication and support shown to President-elect Vladimir Putin by some representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church. The performance was part of wider protests against Putin and unfair elections in Russia. The judge at Moscow’s Tagansky Court refused the defense request to release the three women on bail pending trial. Their custody is now extended until 24 June.
It was not Pussy Riot’s first attempt to stand up for what they believe in. They have also conducted several actions in the subway and on the roof of buses in Moscow where they have protested against Russian macho culture.
The three young women now awaiting trial in Moscow are known figures of political activism in Russia: Nadya Tolokonnikova for example is politically active working for homosexual rights in Russia and Maria Alekhina is a leading environmental activist.
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