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 Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More