Global Politics

Russian band Pussy Riot, convicted of hooliganism, given two-year sentences

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Members of the female punk band Pussy Riot Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, from right, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina sit in a glass-walled cage after a court hearing in Moscow, August 17, 2012. A judge sentenced three women to two years in jail. (Pho

The members of the Russian band Pussy Riot, in jail since a flash concert in a Russian Orthodox cathedral shortly before Russia's presidential election, will spend another two years in jail, a judge in Moscow ruled on Friday.

The band members were protesting the Russian Orthodox church leader's support for President Vladimir Putin. Patriarch Kirill, the church, leader, called the act blasphemy against the church and religious hatred, not an act of politics, the BBC reported.

As was widely expected, the judge agreed that Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, had offended the feelings of Orthodox followers, showing a "complete lack of respect" and convicted them of hooliganism.

"Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich committed hooliganism — in other words, a grave violation of public order," she said, according to the BBC.

Prosecutors had been seeking three-year sentences.

According to the New York Times, as the verdict was read, hundreds of Pussy Riot supporters, gathered outside the courthouse, shouted in protest, demanding the band members be freed.

"Riot police officers arrested dozens of them, including the former chess champion Garry Kasparov, who is active in the Russian political opposition," the Times wrote. "Mr. Kasparov fought with the police and appeared to be beaten as he was bundled into a paddy wagon."

Rallies and protests in support of the three women have been held around the world. Major musicians, like Sting and Madonna, have also backed them.

According to the Times, Tolokonnikova, who has been the most outspoken of the three women, made a blistering closing statement of her own, when she indicted both the Kremlin and the Orthodox Church.

“To my deepest regret, this mock trial is close to the standards of the Stalinist troikas,” she said. “Who is to blame for the performance at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and for our being put on trial after the concert? The authoritarian political system is to blame. What Pussy Riot does is oppositional art or politics.”

Punk Band on Trial in Russia
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