Madonna in Russia: Speaks Out For Punk Band, Gets Sued

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(ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/GettyImages)

(ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/GettyImages)

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Madonna has never been one to bite her tongue, so after the Russian punk band Pussy Riot was convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” on Friday (August 17), she spoke out.

The singer released a statement through her website condemning their two-year jail sentence.

“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.”

The feminist band was jailed five months ago after they put on a guerilla-style performance at the country’s main Orthodox church, singing a “punk prayer” with the lyrics “Mother of God, drive Putin away.”

While in Moscow on her MDNA tour earlier this month, Madge scrawled the band’s name on her back in black ink and read a statement to the audience asking for their release.

But this isn’t the only controversy Madonna’s stirring up in Russia. The Material Girl is being sued for $10.5 million by a group of activists from the country for “moral damage” after she challenged St. Petersburg’s gay pride ban by handing out pink bracelets in support of the LGBT community.

“We demand that she pay for moral damage suffered by St. Petersburg residents as a result of her actions during the show on August 9th,” a spokeswoman for the Union of Russian Citizens said. “We must defend our right to normal cultural life without propaganda of values and views that contradict the Russian culture.”

A lawyer representing the group said the “psychological stress and emotional shock” disturbed not only those at the show, but those who saw the concert footage or the reports on the Internet.

Madonna has yet to comment on the suit.

- Shannon Carlin, CBS Local

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