News / Europe

Russian Prosecutor Calls for Jail for Musician Protestors

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L), Yekaterina Samutsevich (C) and Maria Alyokhina, members of female punk band 'Pussy Riot,' attend their trial in a court in Moscow, August 3, 2012.Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L), Yekaterina Samutsevich (C) and Maria Alyokhina, members of female punk band 'Pussy Riot,' attend their trial in a court in Moscow, August 3, 2012.
x
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L), Yekaterina Samutsevich (C) and Maria Alyokhina, members of female punk band 'Pussy Riot,' attend their trial in a court in Moscow, August 3, 2012.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L), Yekaterina Samutsevich (C) and Maria Alyokhina, members of female punk band 'Pussy Riot,' attend their trial in a court in Moscow, August 3, 2012.
MOSCOW — A state prosecutor in Russia called on the judge at the Khamovnichesky [Moscow] District Court to give three young protest musicians in the band Pussy Riot a three-year sentence for singing a punk prayer against President Vladimir Putin at Russia’s most prominent Orthodox church.

In closing arguments, Federal Prosecutor Alexei Nikiforov said that 22-year-old Nadezhda Tolokonnilkova, 24-year-old Maria Alyokhnia and 29-year-old Yekaterina Samutsevich had abused God when they performed their punk rock song on the altar of Christ the Savior Cathedral by using swear words in church.

Nikiforov went on to say that the young women’s actions showed religious hatred and that the band members humiliated and mocked members of Russia’s powerful Orthodox Church.

Band members have been charged with hooliganism and have pleaded not guilty. If convicted, the charge carries up to seven years in prison.

Watch related video of trial

The three young women have apologized for offending the church, but say they were just trying to express their own opinion when they called on the Virgin Mary to deliver them from Putin.

The group's lawyer, Mark Feigin, said their apology will have little or no effect on the case because he believes legal authorities already have decided they will be found guilty. Meanwhile, Putin has called for leniency in the case. Feigin said Putin's statement is unlikely to change the verdict or sentencing.

Feigin said the judge is biased towards the prosecutors. He said his clients likely will be given their sentences soon and they likely will be sent to a penal colony. He said he believes Putin's statement was made to ease concerns about the impact of the case.  

The trial of the three musician activists has generated worldwide condemnation, and is seen by many as a test case for Putin and his tolerance of dissent in Russia. There have been widespread protests in recent months - the largest since the collapse of the Soviet Union - about how Russia's presidential election was carried out earlier this year. Critics of Putin say he won the vote by fraud and that he rules the country through a tightly controlled political system that relies on corruption to achieve its goals. The Kremlin denies all of the claims.

As a verdict in the trial gets closer, more and more attention is being focused on it. Kerry McCarthy, a member of parliament from the British Labour Party, said her constituents are paying close attention.  

"I think a lot of people in the U.K. didn't take it very seriously until quite recently. They saw the TV coverage, they thought, well, it's quite a silly stunt, it's just people sort of messing around," said McCarthy. "But I think now the attention is focused on it, people do think that it says quite a lot about human rights in Russia and about the protest movement, and to what extent the authorities will tolerate certain forms of protest. And so I think therefore, that's the reason why in some ways it's gained significance beyond what it was originally all about. And that is why the world is watching very closely."

A verdict is expected to be handed down this week and Russia's opposition says it already is planning to protest the expected outcome.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: RJ Salo from: Anaheim Hills
August 08, 2012 3:33 PM
FREE PUSSY RIOT-the harshest that this be could possibly be considered is a victimless crime, if a crime at all. The trial was a farce. As ridiclulous as our government is, we can at least protest it without being sent to the gulags. Poor girls......FREE PUSSY RIOT!!!

by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
August 07, 2012 9:46 PM
The farcical “trial” with predetermined verdict says a lot about Putin’s Russia where right of heavenly God as if “supporting” Putin takes priority over human rights. As a result Russia became a classic example of failed state where crashed human rights delivered once self sustained country into backward economy, science & technology, education & healthcare. Even in Olympic Games the largest country drags in fifth place in Medal Table.

by: Jim Mooney from: Apache Junction, AZ
August 07, 2012 7:34 PM
This is a joke. The Tyrant will not be mocked. Some of the nastiest porn on the planet is coming out of Russia, with full approval of the moneymen and the politicians. And they suddenly have religion? Putin/Hitler - no difference. Putin just wears a nicer mask to hide his evil.

by: Carlos.. from: California
August 07, 2012 1:53 PM
These girls are just what are needed to give publicity to the Kremlin dictators .. President Obama just follows the Kremlin's edicts on action against the Syrian dictator's mass murder .. these girls have more coward than the man in the White House ..

Compare what they did to what the Kremlin's jailer's did to Sergei Magnitsky when he discovered the theft of $250 million from the Russian treasury .. he was murdered in jail .. and what did President Obama say about that ..? absolutely nothing ...

America should be siding with the weak and oppressed .. not keeping their dictators in Syria and the Kremlin in power .. but that takes guts .. like these three girls ..
In Response

by: Rick from: Virginia
August 07, 2012 7:12 PM
@Carlos: This article has nothing to do with President Obama, to try to mix the President of the United States into this topic is to say that you don't understand this information at all. This is about Russian citizens staging a small protest and having the Russian government abuse their power in order to quell the voices of opposition. It demonstrates that Russia is no democracy, but rather has a corrupt neo-facist government that pretends to be democratic. Holding 3 girls in jail without any sort of hearing until now, and getting ready to send them off to a penal colony for 3 to 7 years for their little protest stunt. Its ridiculous and scary. I have visited Russia several times in the past few years and I can tell you that it is not a democratic country... the people of Russia want it to be, but the few in charge will never let their stranglehold grip off of the government. No matter where you go you never feel quite comfortable there because at any moment someone in a uniform or with a badge can just take you away for whatever reason they want. Its not much different than it used to be when it was openly communist/facist.
In Response

by: Carlos from: US
August 07, 2012 4:08 PM
should have written "these girls have more COURAGE than the man in the White House ...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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