Paul McCartney to Pussy Riot: 'Stay Strong'
Paul McCartney to Pussy Riot: 'Stay Strong'

Paul McCartney is pledging support for Pussy Riot, the Russian all-girl punk trio facing up to seven years in prison for "hooliganism."

Pussy Riot Rallies to Greet Friday's Verdict

The legendary singer-songwriter joins such artists as Madonna and Bjork in urging Russia to free the rockers -- Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 -- who were arrested last March for performing an anti-government "punk prayer" inside the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. The women have been jailed since on charges of "hooliganism," and a verdict in their case will be announced Friday.

"I'm writing to show my support for you at this difficult time," McCartney wrote in a letter posted on Twitter Thursday morning. "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. 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."

He 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."

McCartney, who recently performed at the London Olympics opening ceremony, is just the latest high profile music star to pledge support to the jailed band. Madonna gave a forceful speech during a concert in Moscow last week, and a group of musicians -- led by The Who's Pete Townshend -- published a supportive letter in The Times of London at the start of the hearings. Yoko Ono sent a personal message to Samutsevich, saying that "the power of your every word is now growing in us."

An hour before Friday's verdict, supporters in over a dozen cities will stage simultaneous demonstrations around the globe. In New York, Friday's protest will take place outside the Russian Consulate and later on Times Square. In Paris, the protest will be held on Stravinsky Square. Activists are expected to take to the streets at 2 p.m. Moscow time (1000 GMT).

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print