What do Paul McCartney , Elton John , Billy Joel , Paul Simon , Bruce Springsteen , Pete Townshend , Don Henley , Graham Nash and Sting , all have in common? Aside from being multiplatinum-selling international stars and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members, they -- along with dozens of other music artists -- have joined together in a new campaign to call for the release of two jailed female punk-rock musicians from Russia.
The Russian musicians, Masha and Nadia , are members of the activist rock collective Pussy Riot , and were imprisoned last year following their arrest on charges of "hooliganism on grounds of religious hatred" after they filmed themselves lip-synching a protest song about Russian president Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral. Ahead of their parole appeal hearings this week, the rock and pop stars are calling for Masha and Nadia's release in the form of a letter addressed to the duo.
"The impact of your shockingly unjust trial and imprisonment has spread far and wide," reads the message. "While understanding the sensitivities of protesting in a place of worship, we ask that the Russian authorities review these harsh sentences, so that you may return to your children, your families and your lives. The right to freedom of expression and dissent is a legitimate one and essential in any kind of democracy."
Amnesty International has declared the women "prisoners of conscience." A spokeswoman for the organization says, "The Pussy Riot case has shocked musicians all over the world...several musicians have told me that if you can't sing a protest song without fear of arrest then something is badly wrong."
Other stars who have added their names to the initiative include Bryan Adams , Aerosmith 's Joe Perry , Jeff Beck , Blondie 's Debbie Harry , Jackson Browne , Peter Gabriel , Mark Knopfler , Madonna , Yoko Ono , Bonnie Raitt and members of The Clash , R.E.M. and U2 .
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