News / Europe

Punk Rock Band Jail Sentences Highlight Russian Split

James Brooke
MOSCOW — The bright balaclavas of the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot have circled the globe.  But how are their protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral and their convictions in court playing at home?  Russians are divided on the band.
 
Conservative nationalists support the two-year sentences handed down on Friday.  Outside the Moscow courthouse, a group of men dressed in Czarist uniforms gathered.  They were from from Miloserdie, or Mercy, a Russian Orthodox charity.
 
“I’m sorry, but Christianity doesn’t always mean the freedom to do whatever you want,” said one man, who declined to give his name.  “Our charity, Miloserdie, will bring them their food parcels.  Don’t worry, we’ll feed them well, but behind bars in prison.”
 
Standing nearby was Liya Smirnova, who runs a Russian Orthodox youth organization.  “The main thing for us, believers of the Russian Orthodox Church, is that this kind of madness doesn’t happen in the church again,” she said.
 
But Russia’s westernized liberals disagree.  A woman named Yana came to the courthouse on Friday wearing the kind of brightly colored ski mask that made the band recognizable around the world. 
 
“I came to support the girls, and not only because they have been locked away all this time, but because the court system is completely awful,” she said.  “I’ve followed how the trial has been going, and it’s completely terrible.  I also support them as activists and artists, if I can say it like that.  I saw their first video, and I really liked it.  And I think they did the right thing.”
 
Alla, another band supporter, whose friend was arrested by riot police on Friday said, “no law exists” in Russia.  “There is no law to have these girls sit in jail.  It’s unlawful.  It’s not possible.  And we are all waiting for, and believe and will continue to believe in, their release.”
 
On Monday, police broke up another Pussy Riot mob in central Moscow. 
 
Authorities are searching for two more women who took part in the band's performance six months ago at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral.
 
Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev says the band members' trials, and the trial of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, were ordered by the Kremlin.  “I suddenly understood from the Navalny case, which is fully fabricated, same as with these girls, that it’s only politics.  It’s nothing else,” he said in an interview outside the courthouse. 
 
Lebedev, who worked for many years in London, says the solution for Russia is democracy.  “I mean it's already been invented - the parliament, the elections, the free media, the independent court, and the opposition as a permanent and legal and constitutional authority in the country,” he added.
 
But Lebedev will not stay in the country for long.  He says he is selling his Russian investments and moving to London. 

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: kunosoura from: U.S.A.
August 21, 2012 8:53 AM
Media driven hysteria. The full episode isn*t shown in US, extreme public vulgarism, driven by religious hatred. Do taxpayers pay for their elected officials to get involved in such trash ? Nothing better to do ? Sleezy electioneering. If it were in U.S. they would be charged with a *hate crime* and given twenty years and national yellow journalism would have dragged it around for almost as long. In U.S. every time farmer Jones* mule pass a bit of gas, flatulemce, the FBI rushes out to investigate; DHS- americas* Gestapo. And Modanna says ! And that gets into world news. Incredulous.

by: jimmy columbus from: USA
August 20, 2012 11:58 PM
WOW...no freedom of speech there?
Scary,............... I don't know if it's Political or Religious ?...
LONG LIVE, PUSSY RIOT!!!

by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
August 20, 2012 9:32 PM
Science teaches that every population can’t be homogenous, but is heterogeneous. So, why shouldn’t Russians be split in the particular case? Those from so called Miloserdie, or Mercy, a Russian Orthodox charity openly support the church’s involvement into violation of basic human rights and Russian Constitution. Their blasphemy is that they claim themselves as “true believers” as they clearly are not. They are blind sheep led by a shepherd who is undisguised KGB/FSB admirer playing a tune from the mediaeval Bible.

by: Bob Caps from: TEXAS
August 20, 2012 4:25 PM
Money is not the root of all evil, apparently music is. Music is now punishable by imprisonment. FREE PR!!

by: .T.Sanford from: Canada
August 20, 2012 3:59 PM
It's quite obvious that Putin is completely out of touch with the realities of the modern world communications. No matter how rude or hysterical the action by the Pussy Riot, which probably merits a 'time served' sentence at the most, the Russians really blew it. Kinda scary though;since there are much more important issues to be addressed.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs