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Pussy Riot takes on Van Hollen

I didn’t think Pussy Riot even knew that Wisconsin existed. I guess I was wrong.

The punk protestors, which have endured prison and beatings from their efforts opposing Russian President Vladimir Putin, appeared in a video from The Voice Project for a movement it calls #SolidarityWisconsin.

It asks Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to drop charges against hundreds of people who were arrested by Capitol Police last summer and charged for participating in singing protests. The six-minute video features clips of the protest, as well as Capitol Police arresting those who are participating.

Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina said in the video, “Use music to change the world in the direction you want it to change, because music touches people and makes them act.”

A news release from the group’s public relations firm puts the number at arrests at more than 400, though the Dane County Clerk of Court’s office said Tuesday that 357 cases were filed in relation to those protests.

Many of those cases are still pending, and several have requested jury trials.

In an email attributed to Van Hollen spokeswoman Dana Brueck, she gave no indication that the attorney general accepted the assertions made in the video.

In turn, she offered her own arguments:

According to the email, “Unlike Russia, no one has been arrested for the content of his or her speech.

“Unlike Russia, any person could have gathered peaceably and espoused whatever message he or she wished without fear of a citation if he or she obtained a permit, or under the current rules, a reservation.

“Unlike Russia, anyone cited enjoys the protections of the federal and state constitutions and the presumption of innocence.

“The notion that Wisconsin is like Russia, that it prevents protests and punishes dissenters based on their speech is without factual basis and cavalierly discounts the true repression of people who live in un-free societies.”

In addition, the video features Democratic state Reps. Chris Taylor and Melissa Sargent, both from Madison, as well as criminal defense attorney Jim Murray, along with protestors who were charged.

About Eric Heisig

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