News / Europe

Russia Faces Criticism over Band Sentence

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, August 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, August 17, 2012.
VOA News
Russia is facing mounting criticism of the two-year prison sentence for "hooliganism" given to members of an all-female punk band for their protest in an Orthodox cathedral.

A judge handed down the sentence Friday for three members of the band Pussy Riot, prompting demonstrations in cities across the globe, including Moscow, London, Paris and New York.  

The women's legal team plans to appeal the verdict.

The band members were arrested in March after performing a "punk prayer" in Moscow's main cathedral, pleading with the Virgin Mary to deliver Russia from Vladimir Putin, who was elected to a third term as Russia's president weeks after the protest.

The Orthodox Church issued a statement Friday, calling on Russian authorities to show the women "mercy" within the framework of the law.  

The French news agency, AFP, reports that a telephone poll conducted by the Echo of Moscow radio station Saturday indicated 77 percent of listeners felt it was "impossible to agree with the verdict."

The U.S. said the sentence was "disproportionate" and urged Russian authorities to review the case to ensure the right to freedom of expression is upheld.

The European Union's top diplomat, Catherine Ashton, said the case adds to what she called a recent upsurge in politically motivated intimidation and prosecution of opposition activists in Russia.

Amnesty International says it considers the women prisoners of conscience.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Moscow courthouse Friday to support the band.  Some were arrested, including opposition leader Sergei Ukaltsov and former chess champion Garry Kasparov who is a strong critic of Putin.   

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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Comment Sorting
by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga region
August 19, 2012 9:45 AM
Davis K. Thanjan from: New York saw analogy between the St. Patrick Cathedral and the church in Moscow. (S)he doesn’t no a thing about the extent of lawlessness in Putin’s Russia, denial of basic human rights, alleged ties between Patriarch Kirill of Russian Orthodox Church and the FSB. Not any priest in the USA is linked with CIA, promotes a President’s hopeful as a “miracle from God” who rectified the crooked path of history”(by declaring state of emergency in country , suspending Rights and Freedoms of Man and Citizen stipulated in articles 17.1, 22.1, 27, 29.1, 29.5, 31, 56.1 of Russian Constitution).

by: kamil
August 18, 2012 1:23 PM
if international community thinks they are prisoners of conscience they also should think the same about Assange and Manning and many others. it really undermines and hinders any criticism and entire cause of human rights. the world should be more united and oppressive states die out
In Response

by: kamil
August 19, 2012 4:53 AM
although russia is much sinister case. in russia they would (Assange or Manning) disappear and then found dead or would die in prison not from natural course. pussy riot trial is just manifestation of brutality of regime.

by: CF from: CA
August 18, 2012 10:24 AM
No criticism from me. They're lucky that the same church they disrespected stepped in requested mercy on their behalf, or they would be serving the maximum sentence.

by: Anonymous
August 18, 2012 10:02 AM
This is all about attention. Putin loves this attention, because without this he would have none. He likes control too, and exercising his control. This is the biggest news since Putin took office (AGAIN). Although he is enjoying the media stir it's caused for him, he should be embarassed.

by: dacite from: canada
August 18, 2012 9:59 AM
Church and state - Stalinists!

by: Brad from: WI
August 18, 2012 9:50 AM
So they get 2 years...not too bad. In America, you can be detained indefinitely without charges due to the recently signed NDAA. Russian has more freedom and rights for their citizens than this country.
In Response

by: Mike
August 21, 2012 5:35 PM
Do not lie. For disorderly conduct women never get prison for two years in the United States. You do not know American law. The girls were sentenced to imprisonment in a concentration camp is not for the fact that they sang a song in church, but for the fact that sang a song against the Russian Tsar Putin. There was no democracy in Russia.

by: Northlander from: US
August 18, 2012 9:41 AM
I already know what's going to happen here. After a few months, Putin will swoop down and commute their sentence. Then he will be the hero that he thinks he is and believes he will be looked upon by his subjects as heroic and just. (not)

by: Xira from: Austin
August 18, 2012 9:32 AM
They would have done worse in an Amerikan court.

If they had done that in a church in Amerika, they'd be looking at 10 years.
In Response

by: savior from: denvah
August 19, 2012 12:25 PM
you're ignorance is breathtaking...peace.

by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
August 18, 2012 9:30 AM

There is overwhelming criticism against the Pussy Riot band
verdict. These criticisms are directed against Putin with the support of feminists, gays and lebians. If the punk band occupy the St. Patrick Cathedral in New York and criticize Obama, the womens's band may be convicted for tresspassing, desecration of religious premises, hate crime and anti-American activities and what not but not for criticizing Obama. The Pussy Riot deserves the prison term whether they are in Moscow or New York for hurting the religious feelings in the name of political, gay, lesbian or womens rights. The punk band should not invade churches to protest against Putin or Obama, while it is OK to protest in the street or other public places.

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