x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Festival to support jailed members of Russian punk band goes ahead

A music festival to support the jailed members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot went forward yesterday despite official pressure to cancel it.

ST PETERSBURG // A music festival to support the jailed members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot went forward yesterday despite official pressure to cancel it.

One of the organisers, Olga Kurnosova, yesterday said city officials had tried to force her to stop Sunday's show in St Petersburg - the home town of the president, Vladimir Putin - and firefighters had threatened to close down the venue, Glavklub hall, citing safety violations ahead of the concert.

About 1,000 people attended the festival, headlined by the protest bands DDT and Televizor, whose songs have long riled Soviet authorities and Mr Putin's Kremlin.

Three members of Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in jail last month for a "punk prayer" against Mr Putin in Russia's largest cathedral. The trial provoked an international outcry.

Proceeds from the festival will be donated to Pussy Riot and other activists in jail, organisers said. One such activist is Taisiya Osipova, who was jailed for eight years. Her supporters say police planted heroin in her home for refusing to testify against her husband, a senior opposition figure.

More than 100 Russian intellectuals, including musicians, writers and actors, signed an open letter to the Kremlin in July saying the Pussy Riot trial would divide the country.

But other Russian celebrities, including pop stars often seen on Kremlin-controlled television, condemned the band as disrespectful to the dominant Orthodox Church.