• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest

Madonna Slams Pussy Riot Guilty Verdict

Madonna Pussy Riot Moscow P

The pop queen calls upon Russia to free the punk rockers sentenced to prison Friday for speaking out against the government.

One of Pussy Riot's most vocal celebrity supporters, Madonna has released a statement protesting the Russian punk rocker girl group's conviction on charges of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred."

"I protest the conviction and sentencing of Pussy Riot to a penal colony for two years for a 40 second performance extolling their political opinions," the singer said in a statement Saturday (via Reuters). "Even if one disagrees with the location or how they chose to express themselves, the sentence is too harsh and in fact is inhumane. I call on all those who love freedom to condemn this unjust punishment. I urge artists around the world to speak up in protest against this travesty. They've spent enough time in jail. I call on ALL of Russia to let Pussy Riot go free."

STORY: Madonna Labeled 'Moralizing Slut' by Russian Official

Despite global outcry and public condemnation from Madonna and Paul McCartney, a Russian court convicted three of the band's members -- Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 -- for reciting a "punk prayer" slamming Russian President Vladimir Putin during a flash performance at a cathedral in February. They were sentenced to two years in jail.

Following Friday's verdict, former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov was among those arrested at a protest in Moscow.

Earlier this month, Madonna showed her support for Pussy Riot at her Moscow concert, appearing onstage with the band's name stenciled on her back and declaring: "I think they have done something courageous. I think they have paid the price and I pray for their freedom. They deserve the right to be free."