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.
James Brooke
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.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid