Paul McCartney's Pussy Riot support letter asks for 'compassion'

Paul McCartney is jumping aboard the Pussy Riot bandwagon. The all-girl Russian punk rock band was sentenced to two years in prison last August, after they were arrested during a protest. The band performed their song "Punk Prayer" inside Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior, and were charged with "hooliganism" due to the song's criticizing of religion and Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Of the three members sentenced, one was granted parole in October.

Paul McCartney has written letters on behalf of the two members of the band who remain in prison. After being told she couldn't attend her own parole hearing, Maria Alyokhina has decided to begin a hunger strike. Her parole was then denied May 23. In a portion of Paul's letter about her, posted on his official website, the former Beatle writes, "My personal belief is that further incarceration for Maria will be harmful for her and the situation as a whole."

In a letter asking for the release of the other imprisoned member, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, McCartney writes, "I am making the following request in a spirit of friendship for my many Russian acquaintances who, like me, believe in treating people -- all people, with compassion and kindness."

Madonna was one of the first well-known names in the music industry to speak out after the sentencing, calling their imprisonment "too harsh" and "inhumane." Following her statements, Madge was reportedly banned from performing in the country.
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