On stage in Moscow last night during her MDNA tour, Madonna sang out to the crowd, “Express yourself, don’t repress yourself”—which wouldn’t be so remarkable, since it’s the famous rallying refrain from “Human Nature.” But last night, the words took on new meaning. Shimmying out of her white jacket and throwing it to the floor, she revealed the words “Pussy Riot” stenciled along her back, obscured only slightly by her mesh black bra.
Madge has always courted controversy, religious and otherwise, and the MDNA tour has been no exception; but last night’s statement served a nobler cause than her recent Istanbul flashing incident, French swastika fuss, and Scottish police fandango. Last night, in a statement she read to the crowd, Madonna summoned her Russian fans to join her in support of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot, currently imprisoned on charges of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.” The trio, Maria Alyokhina, 24, Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, have been detained for the last five months after a show at a Russian Orthodox Church, during which they performed a “punk prayer” asking “Virgin Mary, Put Putin Away.”
The stunt was part of a peaceful protest and commentary on the 12-year relationship between Putin and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill; however, newly re-elected Russian President Vladimir Putin does not take kindly to any form of dissidence, and Pussy Riot’s formal trial taking place today is widely considered a show trial meant to make an example of the trio. In the wake of today’s rejection for their release, artists and musicians from around the world have flooded the media with vocal acts of support. The New York Times, The Guardian have reported mobilizing responses from The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sting, members of The Beastie Boys, Pete Townsend, Martha Wainright, and Jarvis Cocker, to name a few. Spinner reports that the electro band The Peaches are currently composing a song in solidarity that will be released within the week. Yoko Ono Tweeted, “Mr Putin you are a wise man & don’t need to fight with musicians & their friends.”‘And the most dramatic gesture of support has come from fellow Russian artist Petr Petrovosky, who’s sewn his mouth shut, to protest the trio’s loss of free speech.
As of today, their verdict has been postponed until August 17.