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Madonna Protests Pussy Riot Detention At Moscow Concert

  • RFE/RL

Madonna performs during her concert at the Olympic Hall in Moscow.

Madonna performs during her concert at the Olympic Hall in Moscow.

During a Moscow concert, pop star Madonna called on the Russian authorities to respect "the right to freedom of expression" and release three jailed members of the feminist punk rock group Pussy Riot.

Madonna's speech at the concert lasted more than six minutes as she rallied the crowd to chant in support of Pussy Riot.

"I just want to say a few words about Pussy Riot. I am blessed to be from a country where I have the right to express my opinion. OK?" Madonna said.

"But my dream and my prayer is that everyone in the world has this right -- not only here in Russia but in France, in Iran, everywhere in the world. As human beings, we should have the right to express our opinions and still be treated as human beings."
The pop star's speech came ahead of the eighth day of the trial of three members of Pussy Riot at Moscow's Khamovniki District Court on charges of "hooliganism."
Government lawyers say Pussy Riot's performance at a Moscow church on February 21 was an act of "religious hatred" and an attack against Orthodox Christian worshippers.
The accused say they made a political protest calling for an end to President Vladimir Putin's role in Russian politics.

The audience cheered in approval as Madonna explained that freedom of expression means the right to express her opinion "even if other people...even if my government doesn't agree with me."

"I'm very grateful and I'm very lucky because I come from a country -- America -- where we are free to express ourselves, to express our point of view. Yes. As an artist and as a human being, as a woman, I have the freedom to express my point of view even if other people don't agree with me," Madonna said. "I have the freedom to express my point of view. This is democracy."
Madonna drew a roar of cheers when she named each member of Pussy Riot and said "I pray for their freedom."

"I know there are many sides to every story and I mean no disrespect to the church or the government. But I think that these three girls -- Masha, Katya, Nadia -- I think that they have done something courageous. I think they have paid the price for this act and I pray for their freedom," the pop star said.
As part of her Moscow concert protest, Madonna also wrote the lyrics of a Pussy Riot song on her bare back.

The three detained women are recognized as political prisoners by the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners.
Amnesty International has named them "prisoners of conscience" due to "the severity of the response of the Russian authorities."
Based on Reuters, AP, and ITAR-TASS reporting

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