Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

McCartney in Pussy Riot parole plea

File photo dated 26/6/12 of Sir Paul McCartney who has written to on-trial Russian rock act Pussy Riot, telling them to "stay strong" and saying he would do everything in his power to help. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday August 16, 2012. See PA story SHOWBIZ Punks. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire
Sir Paul McCartney has urged authorities in Russia to consider releasing members of jailed punk band Pussy Riot on parole

Sir Paul McCartney has written to Russian authorities asking them to consider releasing members of jailed punk band Pussy Riot on parole.

He has sent handwritten notes after one of the women, Maria Alyokhina, declared she would go on hunger strike after she was denied permission to attend a parole hearing.

She and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are serving two-year sentences for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" following a protest performance at a cathedral in Moscow last year.

Sir Paul, who has previously expressed his support for the group, has asked officials to grant Alyokhina the right to be present at a future hearing.

He said: "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."

In a further letter about Tolokonnikova, Sir Paul said: "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."

A third band member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was paroled last year.

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