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article imageFormer Beatle Paul McCartney calls for Pussy Riot members release

By Marcus Hondro     May 23, 2013 in Crime
Former Beatle Paul McCartney joined a list of people calling for the release of a member of the Russian band, Pussy Riot. McCartney wrote on his website that Maria Alyokhina's punishment should end. Two members of the band are still in prison.
Alyokhina, 24, was up for parole Thursday but Reuters reports that she did not make it for various offences in prison such as "refusing to make her bed or to wear a headscarf while sewing and by writing letters during mealtimes." She was not permitted to go to her parole hearing in the small town of Berezniki, in the Ural mountains, some 1,000 kms southeast of Moscow.
McCartney wrote two handwritten letters to Russian government officials on the plight of the two Pussy Riot members still in prison. The letter in support of Alyokhina read: "My personal belief is that further incarceration for Maria will be harmful for her and the situation as a whole, which, of course, is being watched by people all over the world.
“In the great tradition of fair-mindedness which the Russian people (many of whom are my friends) are famous for, I believe that you granting this request would send a very positive message to all the people who have followed this case."
His letter in support of band member, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who was denied parole last month, reads: "I have had a long relationship with the Russian people, and, with this in mind, I am making the following request in a spirit of friendship for my many Russian acquaintances who, like me, believe in treating people - all people, with compassion and kindness."
Pussy Riot: hooliganism in church
In February of 2012, Alyokhina and four other members of the Russian feminist punk-rock collective staged a protest at the Orthodox Christian cathedral and created a video there called "Punk Prayer - Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!" Perhaps unexpectedly the government reacted strongly and fearing arrest, two of the women went into hiding and may have left the country .
Alyokhin, Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested and charged with public hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. They were found guilty last August and sentenced to two years. Upon appeal, Samutsevich was released when a judge changed her punishment to a suspended sentence last October but the other two are not scheduled for release until March.
Alyokhina, who has never met Paul McCartney, is said to be on a hunger strike to protest not being permitted to attend her own parole hearing.
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