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Pussy Riot member withdraws prison appeal in solidarity with bandmate


Russia

Pussy Riot member withdraws prison appeal in solidarity with bandmate

A member of Russian punk band Pussy Riot told a court on Friday she only wants to be released alongside her bandmate.

Maria Alyokhina withdrew an appeal to commute her sentence in protest at Russia’s penal system. She is serving a two-year prison term for what became known as a “punk protest” inside Moscow’s largest cathedral, in which the band shouted calls for the Virgin Mary to remove President Vladimir Putin from power.

Appearing in court on Friday, she told the judge:
“I do not have any moral right to take part in this court hearing at a time when my friend and fellow convict Nadezhda Tolokonnikova does not have such an opportunity because she is currently in hospital or back in that same prison which we have heard horrible things about.”

Fellow bandmate Nadezhda Tolokkinova was also convicted and imprisoned in August 2012. Critics say their harsh sentencing is part of a crackdown on dissent since Putin returned to power for a third presidential term in May 2012.

The band’s protest offended many in the mostly Orthodox country but won some high-profile support from the West, including Madonna and ex-Beatle Paul McCartney.

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