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Pet Shop Boys Join Chorus Of Support For Pussy Riot


Chris Lowe (left) and Neil Tennant of The Pet Shop Boys speak to reporters in Moscow on June 4.

Chris Lowe (left) and Neil Tennant of The Pet Shop Boys speak to reporters in Moscow on June 4.

The Pet Shop Boys, the British electronic pop duo best known for their hit "West End Girls," have appealed for the release of jailed Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

"The sentence against Pussy Riot is beyond all proportion to what they have done. We hope that they will be released as soon as possible," singer Neil Tennant said at a press conference in Moscow on June 4, one day ahead of their planned performance in the Russian capital.

Tennant added that he considers Russia one of his favorite countries and has loved Russian culture for a long time, before adding that "a society is judged by how it treats minority groups."

The Pet Shop Boys are currently on a tour promoting their new album, "Electric," due to be released on June 15.

Many other musicians and artists have spoken out for the release of the Pussy Riot members, including Paul McCartney, Madonna, Sting, Mark Knopfler, and Bjork, and the bands the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Franz Ferdinand.

Alyokhina, Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich were found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” in August and sentenced to two years in jail for their February 2012 anti-Kremlin protest performance at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral. Samutsevich has since been released on probation.

This is not the first time the Pet Shop Boys have expressed support for the punk-rock collective. Tennant pressed for their release in August 2012 as their trial was drawing to a close.

On June 3, the Pet Shop Boys performed in St. Petersburg, where a controversial law banning "homosexual propaganda" was adopted last year. There have been no reports so far of any complaints against their show.

Tennant put rumors surrounding his homosexuality to rest way back in 1994 when he announced that he was gay.

Pop stars Lady Gaga and Madonna spoke out in support of gay rights during their recent performances in St. Petersburg, after which individual lawsuits were filed against both stars for promoting homosexuality. A $10.7 million lawsuit filed against Madonna by nine claimants was rejected by a St. Petersburg court after a daylong hearing in November 2012.

-- Deana Kjuka

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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