Madonna has spoken out in support of Pussy Riot, the Russian punk band who are currently on trial in Moscow, accused of "religious hatred." Three members of the band, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich, performed a guerilla gig in Moscow's Christ the Saviour cathedral, playing a song that has been described as a "punk prayer" to the Virgin Mary, calling for Russia to be rid of its prime minister, Vladimir Putin. They were subsequently arrested and now face seven years in prison.
Madonna used her gig in Moscow as an opportunity to speak out about the young women's plight. The case has divided opinion in Russia. The 53 year old singer told Reuters, whilst she was in the Russian capital "I am against censorship and throughout my whole career I've always promoted freedom of expression, freedom of speech. So obviously, I think that what happened to them (Pussy Riot) is unfair." She continued "I hope they do not have to serve seven years in jail. That would be a tragedy. I think art should be political. Historically speaking, art always reflects what's going on socially. So for me, it's hard to separate the idea of being an artist and being political."
The state prosecutor said today (August 7, 2012), that "the actions of the accomplices clearly show religious hatred and enmity. Using swear words in a church is an abuse of God" and added that they has "set themselves up against the Orthodox Christian world."