Activists in defence of Pussy Riot plan to protest outside the latest concert by one of Putin’s musical supporters.

Michael Petrelis, a leading figure in San Francisco’s ‘Gays Without Borders’, has put out a call to demonstrate at the upcoming St. Petersburg Philharmonic concert to be conducted by Yuri Temirkanov.

Temirkanov, one of Russia’s best known maestros, was one of the Putin 500 Trustees, a group of prominent Russians who endorsed Vladimir Putin’s 2012 re-election bid. On December 14, 2013, he was honoured with a 75th birthday party and gala concert given by Putin in St. Petersburg.

Yuri Temirkanov and Vladimir Putin

“Temirkanov and the visit by the government-funded St. Petersburg Philharmonic are the perfect cultural figure and musical performance to communicate a message to Putin and all of Russia,” says Petrelis. “We refuse to be silent as our brothers and sisters are denied free speech, the right to publicly assemble and full protection of their universal human rights.”

The event is designed to show solidarity with Russian rock activists Pussy Riot, recently targeted by police at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. “We believe March 3’s vigil is the first post-Sochi action in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Russians, and the feminist rock group and social justice advocates of Pussy Riot,” said Petrelis. “After months of escalating violence and stigmatization of LGBT people in Russia, and the beating of Pussy Riot performers during the Olympics, it is crucial that we use cultural visits to send a message of hope and tolerance.”

The group itends to mount a solidarity vigil outside Davies Hall where the orchestra will be performing. Bay Area supporters are being encouraged to wear the Pussy Riot costume of a solid, brightly coloured knit ski mask and dress. The San Francisco City authorities are being called upon to illuminate the concert hall with rainbow lights (such as are presently lighting up City Hall during the Sochi Olympics in support of LGBT Russians). A Facebook page for the event is available here.

Pussy Riot's new video (Putin, We Will Teach You How to Love the Motherland) was released earlier this week and makes for disturbing viewing.