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Pussy Riot – What’s the story? 

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WIMPS Web Editor

Posted on August 20th

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Members of the Russian band Pussy Riot have been sentenced to two years prison for hooliganism by a Moscow court. What's the background to the story?  You can follow the links for more detail.

Who is Pussy Riot?
“Pussy Riot is a Russian feminist punk-rock musical collective in Moscow, who stage politically provocative impromptu performances about Russian political life in unusual locations ...” Wikipedia.

 
What did they do?
NME.com reported in March this year that six members of the band had been arrested for staging a protest against Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. 
The punk protestors will face hooliganism charges following their demonstration at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow in February. 
 
NME explained that Putin had recently triumphed in the Russian Presidential election but, despite his insistence that his victory was clean and legitimate, the verdict has been marred by accusations of fraud by his competitors. 

“Members of the band had staged an impromptu performance at the church on February 21, when they sang a song called 'Holy Shit' as a protest against the Orthodox Christian's church alleged support for Putin. Although the group were initially able to flee before police arrived, the Interior Ministry have now confirmed that they have been captured and arrested. Three women and one man were arrested last Saturday (March 3), with police apprehending another two suspects the following day (March 4)”
 
What happened next?
There was an outcry in the West (WIRED.com).  Madonna, Paul McCartney and Bjork were among the musicians who voiced their support. Russian artist Petr Pavlensky sewed his mouth together in support of the band.
 
What did the court do?
Reuters reported last week “The state prosecutor has demanded a three-year jail sentence over the women's storming of the altar under the golden domes of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral in bright balaclavas, tights and short skirts, an act she called an abuse of God.”
 
BBC reported “The women were sentenced to two years in prison for hooliganism.”  
 
What are people in Russia saying?
The Financial Times says “While the sentences have drawn an outpouring of condemnation from western political and cultural leaders as excessive, in Russia the trial is provoking an intense debate between those who see it as a travesty of justice and the majority who believes it was a just punishment for desecrating a holy place.”
 
Why is the sentence controversial?
The two year sentence is seen by supporters as being both disproportionate and decided by politicians in the Kremlin rather than by a fair trail and sentencing. The Guardian reported: “Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, were calmly defiant as a judge handed down the sentence, to cries of "Shame!" inside and outside court. Judge Marina Syrova said she rejected their arguments that they had not intended to offend religious believers but were protesting against the Orthodox church's support for Putin.”
 
In response to the verdict Amnesty International said “A Russian court's decision today to find guilty members of the punk rock protest band Pussy Riot is a bitter blow for freedom of expression in the country,
 
And people in the Music Industry here also gave their support.
 
So that's the story - what do you think?
 
 

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