Madonna may be saddled with her own share of Russian troubles right now, facing a $10.5 million lawsuit brought by a group of activists offended by the "moral damage" she caused at her St. Petersburg concert by challenging the city's gay pride ban. Yet the pop star is continuing to lend her support to jailed Russian punk trio Pussy Riot. On Saturday, she released a statement condemning Friday's conviction of the group on charges of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred."
"I protest the conviction and sentencing of Pussy Riot to a penal colony for two years for a 40 second performance extolling their political opinions," Madonna said in a statement on her website. "Even if one disagrees with the location or how they chose to express themselves, the sentence is too harsh and, in fact, is inhumane. I call on all those who love freedom to condemn this unjust punishment. I urge artists around the world to speak up in protest against this travesty. They've spent enough time in jail. I call on ALL of Russia to let Pussy Riot go free."
Madonna had taken a moment during her August 7th concert in Moscow to urge Russian authorities to free Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich. She also wore a Pussy Riot-style balaclava during the concert and had the band's name written on her back.
The band has drawn a wide array of international support to their cause, including musicians like Patti Smith, Paul McCartney, Sting and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.