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Canadian artist Peaches to release 'Free Pussy Riot' video

Canadian artist Peaches, whose real name is Merrill Nisker.

Canadian electro-punk performance artist Peaches said Thursday she will put out an online protest video next week for Russian feminist band Pussy Riot, who face years behind bars for a church demonstration against President Vladimir Putin.

Peaches told AFP that she and fellow musician Simonne Jones gathered around 400 people decked out in the Russian band's trademark colourful balaclavas at a Berlin park Wednesday to film a video for the new song Free Pussy Riot.

The 45-year-old singer, who lives in Berlin and has a major cult following for her provocative, sexually frank performances, recruited volunteers for the shoot using social media networks.

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Peaches, whose given name is Merrill Nisker, said she and Pussy Riot both take inspiration from the "riot grrrl" school of feminist punk rock.

She said she wanted to lend "underground" backing to the support the band has received from major Western stars such as Madonna, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Faith No More.

"I noticed a lot of creative people doing actions, their own little quiet riots which were really cool – everybody who wants to express their freedom was touched by this," she said of reactions to the Pussy Riot trial.

"I thought if I lived in Russia, this would be me. Once this song comes out I won't be allowed back in Russia for what I say about Putin."

Asked for details, she said simply, "not very nice things."

The video will appear online on Peaches' Facebook page from Tuesday ahead of the verdict to be handed down August 17. Peaches said Rolling Stone magazine had also expressed interest in posting it on its website.

Meanwhile she has launched a petition drive addressed to Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Yakovlevich Chaika, which calls the trial "a cruel heavy-handed act of oppression" and has collected more than 2,000 signatures.

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"By following through with the prosecution of these women, Russian political bullies are currently making a mockery of free speech, free thought, and Russia's own country's constitution," the petition said, calling for their immediate release.

"The world is watching, and we do not like what we see."

Prosecutors want a three-year term in a corrective work camp for the trio on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for their "punk prayer" against Putin in Moscow's largest church in February.

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