White House, State Department, Paul McCartney offer support for Pussy Riot

August 18, 2012 by Brian Kraus

White House, State Department, Paul McCartney offer support for Pussy Riot

The three members of Pussy Riot sentenced to two years in prison have received an outpouring of high-profile support, criticizing the punishment for harshness and Russian government for not protecting freedom of speech. (Watch the band's new anti-Putin single here).

According to the Washington Post, White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the administration is “disappointed by the verdict, including the disproportionate sentences that were granted. While we understand the group’s behavior was offensive to some, we have serious concerns about the way that these young women have been treated by the Russian judicial system.”

The New York Times reports the State Department "all but called on Russia’s higher courts to overturn the conviction and 'ensure that the right to freedom of expression is upheld.'"to freedom of expression is upheld.”

Paul McCartney took to Facebook to offer his support.

"Dear Nadya, Katya & Masha,

I’m writing to show my support for you at this difficult time. 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. 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.

Wishing you the very best of luck,
Paul McCartney"

In a similar fashion, Billy Bragg also showed solidarity on his page.

"Seemed really fitting to be performing at a festival dedicated to celebrating the life and legacy of Joe Strummer on a day when a punk band led the news agenda.

What is at issue here is not whether Pussy Riot's actions were offensive - they were designed to offend. The issue is whether such actions should receive a two year jail sentence. It's the disproportional punishment that reveals the true nature of the police state that Putin is trying to create in Russia."

An article describing the international outcry goes on to say "Russian media and politicians raised the possibility of the women's sentence being reduced."

With that in mind—can music have the power to change the world?

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