News / Europe

Moscow's 'Punk Prayer' Protesters Get 2-Year Sentences

Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass cage at a courtroom in Moscow, Russia, Aug 17, 2012.Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass cage at a courtroom in Moscow, Russia, Aug 17, 2012.
x
Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass cage at a courtroom in Moscow, Russia, Aug 17, 2012.
Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass cage at a courtroom in Moscow, Russia, Aug 17, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
MOSCOW — In the last six months, the brightly colored ski masks of Russia’s "Pussy Riot" protesters have become icons of Russia’s opposition movement. A Moscow judge handed down her verdict Friday in the case that brought the punk rock band world attention.
 
For this one minute of punk "prayer" in an Orthodox cathedral last February, the judge convicted three young women of hooliganism and gave each a jail sentence of  two years.

The case split Russia and was seen as a test of President Vladimir Putin’s willingness to crackdown on his opponents.

About 70 percent of Russians describe themselves as orthodox Christians, and the church hierarchy maintains close ties with the Kremlin.

Last February, the three women - dressed in brightly colored tights, short skirts and balaclavas - entered a restricted area of Christ the Savior, the world’s largest Orthodox cathedral. They stepped out in front of the altar and danced and played guitars while praying for the Virgin Mary to drive out Putin.

Watch video of street scene outside the Pussy Riot trial in Moscow
Streets Scenes Outside Pussy Riot Trial in Moscowi
X
August 17, 2012 8:04 PM
A Moscow court sentenced three young women from the punk rock group Pussy Riot Friday to two years in prison for hooliganism during their unauthorized 'punk prayer' in Christ the Savior Cathedral in central Moscow. People on the street outside the trial react.

Russian Orthodox churches ban musical instruments, dancing and masks. Women traditionally wear conservatively-cut clothes in somber colors or black.

Outside the courtroom today, Russian Orthodox faithful sang prayers.

Yovan explained why he had come.

"The decision of these women, 'Pussy Riot,' must be punished. They fight with all Russian culture. They fight with all Russian people," he said.
 
But most of the hundreds of people who came to the court Friday seemed to favor the women, who already have been held in jail for five months. During that time, the hostile public reaction that greeted their protest has turned to one of sympathy. Two of the three women have young children, whom they have not seen since March.
 
Katia, a 21-year-old, was one of many supporters. She said she does not believe the women are guilty. Her boyfriend, Alexei, said this was not a criminal trial, but a political trial.
 
Standing nearby, Viktor Zakharov, a businessman, criticized the judge’s guilty verdict.
 
"It shows to everybody that there is no fair court in Russia,"  said Zakharov.

Police detain former world chess champion and opposition leader Garry Kasparov (C) during the trial of the female punk band Pussy Riot outside a court building in Moscow, August 17, 2012.Police detain former world chess champion and opposition leader Garry Kasparov (C) during the trial of the female punk band Pussy Riot outside a court building in Moscow, August 17, 2012.
x
Police detain former world chess champion and opposition leader Garry Kasparov (C) during the trial of the female punk band Pussy Riot outside a court building in Moscow, August 17, 2012.
Police detain former world chess champion and opposition leader Garry Kasparov (C) during the trial of the female punk band Pussy Riot outside a court building in Moscow, August 17, 2012.
Before Friday's court hearing, "Pussy Riot" supporters placed brightly colored balaclavas - woolen ski masks - on the heads of statues around Moscow.

After the guilty verdict was announced, police moved in aggressively to disperse the crowd of protesters outside the courthouse, and they detained several dozen people.
 
Sergei Udaltsov, a leftwing opposition leader, spoke to journalists there. He invited all to a protest rally on September 15 calling for the release of the "Pussy Riot" band and other “political prisoners.” Then he, too, was arrested.
 
The imprisoned singers have said they are encouraged by foreign support for them. In recent days, appeals for the women's release have come from Madonna, Sting and Paul McCartney.

As the Internet carried their cause around the globe, "Pussy Riot" supporters staged solidarity protests in places as diverse as London, Iceland, Vienna, Finland, Moldova and New York.
 
“It is a reputation disaster for Russia all over the world," said Zakharov.
 
Judge Marina Syrova said the three young women who comprise the "Pussy Riot" punk group had gravely offended Russian Orthodox sensibilities.

The public-relations setback for the Russian authorities may not be only abroad. According to a poll released Friday, Russians’ approval of Putin has sunk sharply since his inauguration three months ago.
 
In May, 60 percent of Russians polled by the Levada opinion-research group supported the president. By early August, his approval rating had fallen to 48 percent - the lowest level since he took office in 2000.

James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
August 17, 2012 8:57 PM
The women were brave to challenge the cruel, oppressive & backward regime of Mr.Putin, desperately clinging to power. Patriarch Kirill (aka Gundyayev) turned Russian Orthodox Church into a laughing stock by pre-mediaeval standards. Even Turkey looks like exemplary secular state. The FSB regime is already implied in many atrocities; it high jacked basic human rights in Russia and blackmails the world by holding in one hand gas pipe & A- and H-bombs in the other hand. All humanity looks forward to the International Trial (like Nuremberg) to dock the regime.


by: Maggie from: New Zealand
August 17, 2012 7:52 PM
So back to the bad ole days, ancient belief systems and mad, power struck men rule


by: J.R. from: Nevada
August 17, 2012 7:38 PM
Russia has just proven that not only have they not joined the 21st century, but they might not even be living in the 20th century. After all the work Russia has done to move past it's Soviet Union days, this proves that down deep they haven't changed at all. If it wasn't for the media coverage in today's world these girls prob would have disappeared never to be heard/seen again, and Putin is probably cursing the fact that he can't make that happen. Russia will never move forward in the world till Putin is removed. Like most tyrants, he's single handedly holding his whole country back. Hopefully this situation will help the people of Russia wake up and get rid of this guy.


by: Callum from: United States
August 17, 2012 7:20 PM
Putin is as transparent as glass, yet prides himself on being subtle. Telling the courts publically to be lenient whilst privately damming the girls who rightly criticised him, fools no one. He has shown himself to be a week, insecure and corrupt person and politician. Disprove this if you can Putin and let your people go.


by: Carol Green from: Eureka, CA
August 17, 2012 3:29 PM
PUSSY - PRESIDENCY

Putin publicly persecutes, prosecutes, penalizes, and punishes popular, pretty, punk prisoners for provocative, political, prayer protest performance, presenting opposition partisans with proletariat sympathy, pacifist publicity, and populace power. Appeal? Puleeze. Pardon? Probably. Presidency? Caput!

Hussy Hooligan, Retired California Teacher


by: Lara
August 17, 2012 12:38 PM
This is it.Putin doomed himself along with Russian Orthodox Church leaders.


by: kamil
August 17, 2012 12:13 PM
its quite sickening. so shameful. russia shows off its rottenness

In Response

by: Voice of Russia from: Russia
August 17, 2012 8:00 PM
They showed no respect for others rights so none should be paid to theirs. They wanted attention and now they're getting it.

Personally, I think they should have been jailed for paying crappy music.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid