A Russian judge today found three members of the punk band Pussy Riot guilty on charges of hooliganism for their February concert at a Moscow cathedral protesting the rule of President Vladimir Putin. In the concert, an act of guerrilla theater, the trio called upon the Virgin Mary to drive Putin away from Russia.
The band members each received sentences of two years imprisonment, commencing from the time of their arrest in March. The specific charges, “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred,” carried stiff sentences of up to seven years, but prosecutors were recommending that the band members be jailed for three years, and Putin himself had advocated leniency in their case. Judge Marina Syrova read from the lengthy verdict for about three hours before announcing the sentencing around 6 pm Friday, Moscow time.
“We accept this as our ethical misdemeanor, but an ethical misdemeanor should not be a cause of criminal punishment,” band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said. Meanwhile, outside the courtroom, arrests occurred as supporters and opponents of the band gathered. Those detained included chess master Garry Kasparov, a vehement Putin critic. Pussy Riot vigils also were staged in New York, London, Paris and elsewhere.
Here’s a World Edition report on the trial from Taiwan’s Next Media Animation.
And here’s an interview with the three other members of the band — Sparrow, Squirrel and Balaclava — who remain at large and have continued to elude Russian authorities.
Meanwhile, a Femen protester in Kiev uses a chainsaw to cut down a cross in support of Pussy Riot. The cross was near Independence Square in this Ukraine city.