Amnesty International Calls for the Release of Russian Punk Band Pussy Riot Following Arrest

Amnesty International Calls for the Release of Russian Punk Band Pussy Riot Following Arrest
The Iron Curtain was lifted more than two decades ago, but rock'n'roll can still stir up a massive controversy in Russia. Three women from the punk band Pussy Riot are learning that the hard way, as they've been arrested and may face up to seven years in prison for singing a protest song about president-elect Vladimir Putin -- a move that has now drawn the attention of Amnesty International.

As Reuters reports, the band participated in a protest that took place at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral on February 21. They entered the church to sing a song that translates as "Holy Mother, Throw Putin Out." Maria Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samusevich were arrested after the protest and charged with hooliganism.

Amnesty International has spoken out against the arrest, writing a statement dated April 3 calling for the release of the band members.

The statement reads, "Instead of prosecuting members of 'Pussy Riot' for their political opinions criticizing the Russian government and some Church officials, the Russian authorities must recognize that their protest is protected by the right to freedom of expression, guaranteed in international human rights law, drop the charges of hooliganism against Maria Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samusevich, and release them immediately and unconditionally."

The protest caused no damage and reportedly resulted in little disruption. The Orthodox Church initially called for the protestors to be treated with mercy, but their stance has reportedly since become more harsh.

The incident even got the attention of the Beastie Boys, as the band wrote on their blog, "locked up for being too punk? that shit's fkd up. FREE PUSSY RIOT!"

The three Pussy Riot band members are now in pre-trial detention until April 25. More than 2.000 people have signed an open letter asking the clergy not to press charges.

Watch video footage of the protest below.