Yoko Ono gives peace prize to jailed Russian punk band Pussy Riot

Members of the Russian radical feminist group Pussy Riot, which stage performances against the policies of Vladimir Putin, are seen during a rehearsal in Moscow in February 2012. AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev

Members of the Russian radical feminist group Pussy Riot during a rehearsal in Moscow in February of 2012.
AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev

(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - Yoko Ono, performance artist and widow of the former Beatle John Lennon, has presented this year's LennonOno grant for peace to the jailed Russian punk band Pussy Riot.

The award coincides with the global commemoration of the International Day of Peace.

Pyotr Verzilov, husband of Nadia Tolokonnikova, one of three imprisoned members of Pussy Riot sentenced in August to two years in prison, accepted the award on the group's behalf. The punk band was accused of performing an irreverent song mocking Russian President Vladimir Putin inside Moscow's main cathedral.

"It's a terrible thing that all three girls have been jailed for not doing anything wrong. They were just standing for freedom of speech," Ono said at a ceremony in New York.

Verzilov thanked Ono, saying the grant increased international pressure on Russian authorities to release the women.

The LennonOno Grant for Peace is given every two years to honor Yoko Ono's late husband John Lennon's dedication to peace and human rights.

Other commemorations of World Peace Day include a concert tonight in London by Elton John. Also at the performance will be James Morrison and 2CELLOS, Jude Law, Lily Cole. and actor Jeremy Gilley, who founded Peace One Day 13 years ago.

  • CBS News Staff

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