Pussy Riot Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Protest Against Russia's President

Members of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in prison for ‘hooliganism’ for staging a protest against President Vladimir Putin outside of Russia’s main Orthodox Cathedral on Feb. 21, of this year. Hundreds protested outside the courthouse when the verdict came down leading to at least 30 people being detained.
By: Tracy E. Gilchrist
August 17 2012 1:31 PM

Members of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in prison for ‘hooliganism’ for staging a protest against President Vladimir Putin outside of Russia’s main Orthodox Cathedral on Feb. 21, of this year. Hundreds protested outside the courthouse when the verdict came down leading to at least 30 people being detained, the Wall Street Journal Reports.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Marina Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, of Pussy Riot have been in jail without bail for approximately five months since the arrest at the cathedral and will serve another 19 months behind bars, according to Reuters.

During an eight-day trial the three members of Pussy Riot testified that their “punk prayer” was a protest against the church’s leader Patriarch Kirill I, for throwing support behind Putin’s presidential election that took place on March 4, the Wall Street Journal reports.

As part of their action against the church and Putin the women entered the church wearing their signature brightly colored balaclavas, a cloth hood and mask that reveals only part of the face, and began “jumping around, kicking and playing air guitar” while people they were working with videotaped them, according the Wall Street Journal.

The judge in the case, Judge Marina Syrova, said of Pussy Riots’ protest that,  "The girls' actions were sacrilegious, blasphemous and broke the church's rules,” Reuters reports.

At the trial the women reportedly asked for orthodox believers to forgive them as the action at the church was part of a larger series of protests against Putin and not religion, but the judge countered by saying that the women never specified the protest was against Putin during the action at the church.

Pussy Riot’s arrest and trial sparked an international campaign of protest and support from high-profile celebrities including Madonna, Paul McCartney and Sting to the U.S. State Department, which has called the arrest a move that is "politically motivated prosecution of the Russian opposition and pressure on those who express dissenting views,” according to the Wall Street Journal. 

Image via Getty. 

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