Russian punk band gets support from D.C. protesters

Michelle Basch, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Protests are common in D.C., but one held on Friday night was a bit unusual.

Drivers on Wisconsin Avenue at Edmunds Street in Northwest D.C. saw protesters with signs and banners, as well as musicians rocking out under a tent right across from the Russian Embassy.

The event was organized by Amnesty International to support three members of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot.

The band members, all women, were arrested in March after performing a song critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral.

“In Russia right now there are three women sitting in a jail cell waiting to be sentenced to as much as three years in a hard labor camp,” says Michelle Ringuette, chief of campaigns and programs for Amnesty International USA. And why? Because they sang a political song.”

They’re getting some support from local musicians, too.

“If Pussy Riot’s mission is to drag truth to the doorstep of the Kremlin, no one should stop them,” says Dave Lesser, frontman for D.C. band Brenda.

In addition to the speeches and songs at the event, there were chants of “free expression, no repression” and “free speech is not a crime, why are they still doing time?”

Musicians like Madonna, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sting have also voiced support for Pussy Riot.

Last week Putin said there was “nothing good” about the band’s protest, but he also said he thinks the three should not be judged too harshly.

A verdict in the case is expected to be announced Aug. 17.

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