September 3, 2015


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Canadian performer Peaches films video in support of Russian band Pussy Riot

BERLIN - About 400 people joined Canadian electro-pop performance artist Peaches in a Berlin park to show support for the members of a feminist band on trial in Russia for performing a "punk prayer" against President Vladimir Putin.

The three Pussy Riot band members are awaiting a verdict next week in their Moscow trial on charges of hooliganism motivated religious hatred for the February performance.

Masked female activists demonstrate in support of members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot in front of the Russian Embassy in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Aug. 9, 2012. Prosecutors in Russia on Tuesday called for three-year prison sentences for feminist punk rockers who gave an impromptu performance in Moscow's main cathedral to call for an end to Vladimir Putin's rule, in a case that has caused international outrage and split Russian society. (AP Photo/dapd/Oliver Lang)

Masked female activists demonstrate in support of members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot in front of the Russian Embassy in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Aug. 9, 2012. Prosecutors in Russia on Tuesday called for three-year prison sentences for feminist punk rockers who gave an impromptu performance in Moscow's main cathedral to call for an end to Vladimir Putin's rule, in a case that has caused international outrage and split Russian society. (AP Photo/dapd/Oliver Lang)

The trial has been seen as part of the widening government crackdown on dissent in Russia and has been widely criticized.

Peaches, who lives in Berlin, told the dapd news agency in a story Thursday that the crowd showed up in Berlin's Mauerpark Wednesday after she spread the word over social media networks that she needed people for a video for her newly penned song "Free Pussy Riot."

"I wanted to do something for them," she said. "With this video I can act as a bridge between the women and the people here."

On Thursday, a handful of protesters wearing bright-colored homemade ski masks like those favoured by the band demonstrated outside the Russian Embassy in Berlin against the trial.

The three women — Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23; Maria Alekhina, 24; and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, face a possible seven years in prison if convicted, though prosecutors have called for three-year sentences.

Earlier this week, a cross-party group of German lawmakers sent the Russian Ambassador a letter expressing their concerns.

In the letter, signed by the human rights spokespeople from Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and coalition partner FDP as well as the Greens and the Social Democrats, the lawmakers said the five months the band members have been in custody and possible jail terms are "draconian and disproportionate."

"''In a secular and pluralist state, peaceful artistic activities — even if they may be seen as a provocation — should not lead to accusations of a serious crime and long prison sentences," the lawmakers said in the letter, which more than 100 other members of parliament added their names to in support.

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