Pussy Riot not a big hit with Russian pop stars

Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:32pm EDT
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By Alissa de Carbonnel

MOSCOW (Reuters) - From Madonna to ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, pop singers worldwide have demanded the release of three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot during their trial over an anti-Kremlin protest on a church altar.

But the response from top musicians inside Russia has been muted. When asked about the case, many Russian performers seem puzzled by the support from abroad.

"What is so great about Pussy Riot that all these international stars support them?" asked veteran Russian singer Valeria on her personal website. "They must be saying this because someone ordered them to."

Music insiders say Russia's biggest stars may be wary of falling out with President Vladimir Putin for fear of jeopardizing their main source of income - high-paying private concerts for the super-rich.

Others may be concerned that taking a stand against Kremlin could cut their time on state television, they said.

Russia's mainstream performers also have little reason to feel solidarity with Pussy Riot - a protest collective more interested in making political statements than polished music.

"For many of these people, their principle work is performing at corporate parties for large oil companies or even sometimes for the country's top officials," said rock singer Yevgeny Fyodorov.

"They are part of Putin's system and scared to leave it," said Vasily Shumov, who compiled an online collection of songs this year in support of Putin's opponents, including Pussy Riot.   Continued...

Yekaterina Samutsevich (2nd L) and Maria Alyokhina (L), members of female punk band "Pussy Riot", sit in the defendant's cell before a court hearing in Moscow August 8, 2012. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin