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
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 Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid