Last month, Paul McCartney issued a message of support to members of the Russian band Pussy Riot, who were arrested earlier this year and then sentenced to prison terms because of an unauthorized protest performance they staged at an empty Moscow church.  Now, John Lennon‘s widow, Yoko Ono, will honor the feminist punk-rock group with a LennonOno Grant for Peace, which is given out to selected activists every two years.  Ono will bestow Pussy Riot with the award this Friday in New York City, “in the hope that they will be released as soon as possible.”  The presentation will be backed by human-rights organization Amnesty International.

The LennonOno Grants for Peace usually are presented biennially on October 9 — the birthday of Lennon and his son Sean — during a ceremony at the Imagine Peace Tower in Reyjavik, Iceland.  Ono will be in Reyjavik, to honor several other activists on that date.

In February, the members of Pussy Riot entered Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral and taped themselves performing a song they describe as a “punk prayer” that includes lyrics imploring the Virgin Mary to help “put [Russian President Vladimir] Putin away.”  The following month, three band members — Nadya Tolokonnikova, Katya Samutsevich and Masha Alyokhina — were arrested and charged with “hooliganism.”  In August, the women were sentenced to two years in prison, inspiring the condemnation of many artists and political organizations.

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