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Paul McCartney has joined a growing list of musicians urging Russian officials to release members of the band Pussy Riot, who are facing up to seven years in prison. The former Beatle feels that the band's "punk prayer" against Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Church of Christ the Saviour was a legitimate form of protest and not a jail-able offense. On February 21st, the group was arrested for hooliganism and violating public order during their protest against Putin's re-election. A verdict for the musicians is to be handed down today (August 17th.)

McCartney posted a letter to the group on his official site ( saying:

"Dear Nadya, Katya and Masha, I'm writing to show my support for you at this difficult time. I would like you to know that I very much hope the Russian authorities would support the principle of free speech for all their citizens and not feel that they have to punish you for your protest. Many people in the civilized world are allowed to voice their opinions and as long as they do not hurt anyone in doing so I believe this is the best way forward for all societies. I hope you can stay strong and believe that I and many others like me who believe in free speech will to everything in our power to support you and the idea of artistic freedom. Wishing you the very best luck, Paul McCartney"

Among the others throwing their support behind the Russian punk trio are Pete Townshend, Sting, Yoko Ono, Madonna, Pulp's Jarvis Cocker, the Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Patti Smith, and Beastie Boy Adam "Ad Rock" Horovitz, among others.

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