Madonna Releases Statement, Condemns Imprisonment of Pussy Riot

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As one of the leading voices speaking out in support of Pussy Riot - she gave an impassioned speech (below) during a concert in Russia two weeks ago - Madonna has now released a new statement in light of this group's members being sentenced to two years in prison.

A judge decreed last week that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich will spend time behind bars for disparaging Vladimir Putin outside a cathedral, an act deemed in court as "hooliganism."

Writes Madonna in response to the decision:

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.

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.

Madonna - who is being sued for $10.5 million by Russian activists because she challenged the gay pride ban in St. Petersburg during a recent show there - is not alone in her disdain over the Pussy Riot verdict.

Many celebrities have expressed outrage over Twitter, with The Black Keys vowing to never perform in Russia again under this sort of law.

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Putin looks like he takes no shit from anyone; his eyes see everything! But why did these ladies go inside a cathedral with their protests? Many people find that act alone to be sacrilegious, and that evidently was Putin's last straw.