Pussy Riot Jailed Members Get a Two Year Jail Sentence

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Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman this is The World. The three jailed members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot are looking at more prison time now. The much anticipated verdict in their hooliganism trial was delivered today by a judge in Moscow.

Judge: [speaking Russian]

Werman: The judge found the defendants guilty as charged of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. The women were then sentenced to two years in prison. The three Pussy Riot members have been in jail since February. They were arrested after breaking into a Moscow cathedral and performing a protest song against Russian leader Vladimir Putin on the altar. Miriam Elder is a reporter in Moscow for the British newspaper The Guardian. She was in court today to witness the women's reaction to the verdict.

Miriam Elder: Actually, their reactions didn't change pretty much throughout the entire hour long reading of the verdict today. They actually just stood staring straight ahead. As cheesy as this might sound they really did look defiant. They were wearing their handcuffs inside the glass cage where they were standing to listen to the verdict and just looking straight ahead their arms crossed.

Werman: So they don't get hard labor what will they expect to be facing over the next two years?

Elder: It's not quite clear the details as far as I understand they'll be spending some time in a prison colony somewhere in Russia. It's very rare that it happens to be near the Moscow region which would be easier obviously for relatives. They'll probably be sent somewhere farther away.

Werman: And usually do they get family visits? What will that be like?

Elder: Yeah but it is a very complicated theocratic process like most things in Russia. I know when they were sitting in the pretrial detention center the visits are very regulated, so we'll have to wait and see.

Werman: Describe the scene inside and outside the court today. There was some outrage there?

Elder: There was when the verdict was read people inside the courtroom started shouting for shame. There were some opposition leaders inside the court. And outside the court there were hundreds of people gathered a lot of them wearing Pussy Riot t-shirts and just shouting Russia without Putin, how much does your conscience cost you? And just being really, really angry. I talked to one woman and she was like we've been peaceful until now but how much can we take? So it seems that everybody's getting radicalized.

Werman: It seems mostly you saw support for Pussy Riot. Was there anybody there; was there any interest on anybody who doesn't support the band?

Elder: Well I saw some reports of people who were sort of, of the church having arrived today, but I didn't see any of them myself. But yeah you have to remember that particularly outside Moscow there are a lot of people who are incredibly conservative and incredibly religious and probably to a great degree probably support what happened today.

Werman: Now Pierto Versolav is the husband of one of the woman on trial. He's in attendance. How did he react?

Elder: I spoke to him just as we were leaving the court and everybody had this sense that you know we expected this but they were still very, very sad. And he said that all he had to say was whatever Putin wants Putin gets.

Werman: Now, Pussy Riot was a side bar to last year demonstrations against alleged election fraud and against Putin's grip on power in Russia, but it since evolved into the main story. Where does this leave though the opposition Russia?

Elder: Well that's the question. And if you look at Pussy Riot they are a punk band, but by Russian standards of protest they are pretty radical. You know breaking into a church or even a metro station in Russia which is considered a high security object is a pretty radical thing to do. And then the response from the state is quite radical. Investigating these people, charging these people, and then sending them to jail for two years. So to me it's just a sign that the entire situation is just getting much more radicalized then when it started.

Werman: The Guardian's Miriam Elder outside the courtroom in Moscow.