Pussy Riot jailed for two years

Issue 
The three members of Pussy Riot sentenced to two years jail.

A Russian judge sentenced three members of Pussy Riot to two years each in prison on hooliganism charges on August 17.

The judge said the three band members, who have already been detained for five months, committed hooliganism driven by religious hatred and offending religious believers.

The women smiled sadly at the testimony of prosecution witnesses accusing them of sacrilege and “devilish dances” in church.

They remained calm after the judge announced the sentence and someone in the courtroom shouted: “Shame!”

The charges carried a maximum penalty of seven years in prison, although prosecutors had asked for a three-year sentence.

The Pussy Riot members were arrested in March after a guerilla performance in Moscow's main cathedral calling for the Virgin Mary to protect Russia against Vladimir Putin.

The case has attracted international attention, highlighting the vast influence of the Russian Orthodox Church. Although church and state are formally separate, the church identifies itself as the heart of Russian national identity.

Amnesty International strongly condemned the court's ruling, calling it a “bitter blow” for freedom of expression in Russia.

Outside the courtroom hundreds of Pussy Riot supporters chanted: “Russia without Putin” amid a heavy police presence.

Protests were also held in more than three dozen cities worldwide, including in Russia, Germany, Belgium, France, Ukraine, Britain and even Israel.

Protesters in Paris's Igor Stravinsky Square near the Pompidou Centre modern art museum, echoed those outside the Moscow courthouse, chanting “freedom, freedom”.
In Ukraine, four feminist activists used a chainsaw to hack down a wooden cross in Kiev's central square in a show of support.

“A cross is a symbol of the repressive religious prejudice that supports dictatorship.

“Now people who worship the cross want to jail the innocent,” said Anna Gutsol, leader of the group that chopped down the 18-foot-tall cross put into place during Ukraine's so-called Orange Revolution.

In Sofia, Bulgaria, supporters of Pussy Riot dressed statues on a Soviet-era monument in colourful balaclavas similar to those worn by demonstrators in Moscow.

About 150 people demonstrated outside the Russian embassy in Berlin.

One sign showed a photo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel embracing Putin with the message: “He hasn't earned it."”

[Reprinted from the Morning Star.]

Comments

In Brisbane on August 9, there was a protest for the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot. It was part of a world-wide movement to free them from prison, where they were being held for six-months for their anti-government songs against Vladimir Putin.
The protest was small, but vibrant, with protesters wearing yellow pillow cases with holes cut out for the eyes and mouth.
The arrest of Pussy Riot shows the hypocrisy of the Russian state, which has charged them with hooliganism, yet it allows Neo Nazi gangs to bash up Gay Rights protesters, with police backing them up.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, which promoted art and music and protected the rights of ethnic minorities, now in Putin's Russia we see the rise of Slavic nationalism, together with the suppression of artistic freedom. Pussy Riot stand for freedom of expression against the state's brutal anti-democratic ideology, with support from big name bands like Faith No More and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
Anti-Flag has lyrics to the Pussy Riot song, Holy Virgin Mary, drive Putin out, played on the roof tops of public buildings and in the Russian Orthodox church. For more information, go to: www.freepussyriot.org.
Sam Bullock.