Julia Gillard Backs Pussy Riot, Tells Russia ‘Jailing Too Harsh’

on in International News, Local News


Julia Gillard Backs Pussy Riot, Tells Russia ‘Jailing Too Harsh’

Some of the biggest news in recent weeks has been the jailing of three members of the all-female Russian punk band, Pussy Riot, who were sentenced to two years imprisonment, while Russian authorities continued the hunt for the remaining bandmates while several members fled Russia to escape prosecution.

Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, were convicted for their staged performance and protest against the Russian Orthodox Church’s support of President Vladimir Putin, held at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in May – and were sentenced to two years imprisonment for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.”

The ruling sparked outrage amongst the music community as everyone from Paul McCartney, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Madonna and forthcoming Meredith Festival act, Grimes, showed their support for Pussy Riot and its persecuted members. While the trio’s sentencing also received  intense criticism from both international politicians and human rights groups, including – as has now been revealed – an appeal from the Australian government.

News Ltd reports that Prime Minister Julia Gillard lodged a complaint with Moscow over the jailing of the three members for their punk protest, saying that it was Australia’s view that the two-year ruling handed down to the women for their provocative anti-Putin protest was excessive.

“We have indicated our view that the sentence for these young women, we believe is disproportionate and that view has already been conveyed to the Russian government,” Gillard said. ”That was conveyed through our embassy at the time the sentence was first announced.”

The news came as PM Gillard touched down in Russia’s far eastern port city of Vladivostok late last Friday for the 2012 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leader’s summit.

Ms Gillard cited that she would not enter into any public discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the sentencing during the summit, but that neither would she rule out the notion of directly broaching the Pussy Riot conviction.

“Look, I’m not going to preempt the type of discussions that I have in the margins of the meeting but I do understand that I’ll be seeing President Putin obviously as he chairs APEC,” she said.

The APEC summit will focus on economic matters and international relations rather than anything to do with the judicial system’s view to public protest, but political commentators have made much of Gillard holding out till she was in Russia to make clear Australia’s position on the Pussy Riot case.

Gillard’s opinions have been shared by others back home, as protest movements begun by Sydney musicians, occupied Sydney’s Oxford Street during the announcement of the sentencing last month with a display of drummers donning the trademark Pussy Riot coloured balaclavas.

The Sydney supporters join a number of intensified vocal protests that have been held worldwide in support of the convicted band members, while the remaining incognito members of Pussy Riot managed to record and release a new protest song in the aftermath of the trial in support of their jailed bandmates called “Putin Lights Up The Fires” – which you can hear below:


Facing The Music: Banned Musicians Censors Tried To Silence

Facing The Music: Banned Musicians Censors Tried To Silence

Members of Russia’s punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to 2 years jail after performing in a Moscow cathedral protesting against the Orthodox Church leader’s support...


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