MOSCOW, January 31 (RIA Novosti) – US pop star Madonna will introduce two members of Russia’s Pussy Riot feminist punk group when they make guest appearances at an Amnesty International concert in New York next month, the international human rights organization said Thursday.
Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were freed under presidential amnesty in December shortly before they were due to be released from prison for staging an anti-government protest in a Moscow cathedral.
“I am honored to introduce my fellow freedom fighters Masha and Nadya from Pussy Riot. I have admired their courage and have long supported their commitment and the sacrifices they have made in the name of freedom of expression and human rights,” Amnesty International quoted Madonna as saying.
Three Pussy Riot members made global media headlines in 2012 after they were charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” for their brief performance of an anti-Putin song in Moscow’s main cathedral in February that year. They were sentenced to two years in jail that August, though the sentence of one of the women was later commuted to a suspended one.
Madonna, a longstanding defender of Pussy Riot, was among 100 celebrities who called on Russian authorities to release Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova in an open letter last summer.
Amnesty International’s Bringing Human Rights Home concert on February 5 will feature Imagine Dragons, The Flaming Lips, Lauryn Hill, The Fray, Blondie, Cake, Yoko Ono and Bob Geldof.