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September 21st, 2012
09:19 PM ET

Punk-rock members of Pussy Riot receive peace grant; family speaks out

Russian punk-rock group Pussy Riot will receive the LennonOno Grant for Peace in New York Friday. Yoko Ono will present the peace grant to Pyotr Verzilov–band spokesman and husband of member, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova–daughter Gera and their entire legal defense team.

The last time Verzilov and Gera saw Tolokonnikova was Monday.

In partnership with organizations such as Amnesty International, FreePussyRiot.org, and other publications a benefit will also be held in Manhattan for the group convicted of hooliganism, according to the Rolling Stone.

Three of the punk-rock band's members received a two-year prison sentence in August after performing a song inside Moscow's main cathedral, which mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The members are sentenced to serve out their time in a remote penal colony hundreds of miles away from Moscow.

With more than 2,000 prisoners die on their way or in Russian jails over the past six months, lawyers are hoping the three women can serve their sentences in Moscow instead, reported The Daily Beast.

These remote women’s prisons are marred by violence and hazing. Lawyers believe the women's lives are in danger.

Verzilov met with U.S. lawmakers and aides on Thursday who drafted legislation, known as the Magnitsky bill, which will impose sanctions on Russian officials who are involved with human rights violation cases.

If the bill is passed Russian officials who are suspects of these cases would be publicly identified. Proponents of the bill hope to expose some of the corruption in Russia's judicial system.

The House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations committees have approved the bill, but it still requires a final vote from both chambers.

Verzilov hopes the bill will pressure Russian officials to release his wife along with others.

OutFront tonight, Pyotr Verzilov.


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