News / Europe

    Russia Frees One Punk Rocker, Keeps Two in Jail

    Members of the female punk band "Pussy Riot" (L-R) Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass-walled cage before a court hearing in Moscow, October 10, 2012.
    Members of the female punk band "Pussy Riot" (L-R) Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass-walled cage before a court hearing in Moscow, October 10, 2012.
    James Brooke
    As Russian Orthodox believers prayed and sang hymns, a Moscow judge on Wednesday freed one Pussy Riot punk protester but upheld the two-year jail sentences for the other two.

    The three women were arrested in February after they slipped into Russia’s largest Orthodox cathedral and performed a lightning, one-minute “punk prayer” imploring the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Vladimir Putin.

    Several days later,  Putin won the presidential election - and a six-year term. Before the election, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill had called  Putin’s 12 years ruling Russia “a miracle of God."

    Political, Not Religious

    On Wednesday, one of the jailed punkers, Yekaterina Samutsevich, spoke to the court.

    “Our act was political, not religious,” she said. “For that reason, there was no crime.” She and the other two musicians said they were protesting the gradual merging of church and state in Russia.

    But her lawyer came up with a more persuasive argument. She said that cathedral guards had stopped Samutsevich before she had time to get her guitar out of its case.

    Under the new ruling, the other two women, both mothers of small children, will have to stay in jail until their sentences run out - about one year from now. One of them, Maria Alyokhina, vowed in court not to keep quiet, even if she serves her prison sentence in Siberia.

    Defense lawyers complained that President Putin influenced the case when he told state television Sunday night that the Pussy Riot women got what they "wanted."

    Outside the court, Karil Fralog agreed, saying, “The president’s words sent a key signal that he is on the side of the Orthodox majority of Russian citizens, that he is our president. Glory to Russia!”

    • Freed feminist punk group Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich speaks outside a court in Moscow, Oct. 10, 2012. A Moscow appeals court freed one of the jailed members, but upheld the two-year prison sentence for the two others.
    • Pussy Riot members, from left, Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alekhina, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Wednesday. Oct. 10, 2012.
    • A bailiff stands in a room as people watch a live broadcast of a court hearing on members of the punk band in Moscow October 10, 2012.
    • Yekaterina Samutsevich after she was freed from the courtroom in Moscow October 10, 2012.
    • Pussy Riot members sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Oct. 10, 2012.
    • Yekaterina Samutsevich at a court room in Moscow, Oct. 10, 2012.
    • Maria Alekhina in a glass cage at a court room in in Moscow, Oct. 10, 2012.

    Media Impacts Support


    The three women were first convicted in August. Since then, state TV has steadily attacked them. This media barrage seems to be turning public opinion. In a nationwide Levada poll taken two weeks ago, only 14 percent of respondents described the two-year sentences as excessive - about half the level of before.

    Outside Russia, support for the group has been strong. Statements of support have come from Madonna, Yoko Ono, Paul McCartney and other musicians.

    Outside the Moscow court Wednesday, Yelena Gluzhka was handing out buttons with the trademark ski mask logo of the Pussy Rioters.

    She said she was delighted to hear that on Tuesday, the European Parliament placed Pussy Riot among its finalists for the European Union’s annual Sakharov human rights prize.

    “This nomination shows what kind of country we live in,” Gluzhka said, adding that Western Europeans do not see the Pussy Riot protesters as guilty of a crime.

    In Moscow, Russia’s parliament, or duma, is taking steps in a different direction. It is preparing a law that would stipulate jail sentences of up to five years for “blasphemy” - defined as including interrupting religious services or desecrating religious symbols.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: George Hayduke from: Swamps
    October 10, 2012 8:57 PM
    but is their music any good ?

    by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
    October 10, 2012 11:05 AM
    The Appeals court recognized gross incompetence of the previous court of law that convicted Samutsevich (in August) not having proved that she actually had taken part in the protest. The girl was unlawfully detained, held many months under arrest and convicted without any legal ground. Her verdict was passed contrary to the Criminal Procedure code of Russia. It gave an example that even in such high profile cases Putin’s legal system is unprofessional and manipulated.
    In Response

    by: Jeffrey from: USA
    October 10, 2012 8:27 PM
    In response to Gennady,

    Maybe this ruling today demonstrates that Putin does not control the legal system, that after reviewing the facts a reversal was made once the evidence was made available.

    The courts eventual make the right decision, sometimes it takes time.
    In Response

    by: James from: Germany
    October 10, 2012 7:49 PM
    I do not think the opinion reflected in the poll is a result of the state media campaign. I think it's owing to Russian (Soviet) history, when in the last century Christian believers were interupted, interfered with, mocked, bullied and ultimately imprisoned and killed by the millions--this was mostly done by ordinary citizens considering themselves revolutionaries at the urging of the atheist government. Protecting religious practicioners means something completely different to Russians than it does it the west. None of these stories have that context. Also, this Cathedral they chose to desecrate was once demolished by the communists and only rebuilt in 2000. It is a symbol of the reemergence of religious freedom in Russia.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora