August 2, 2012

Members of Russian Feminist Punk Group "Pussy Riot" On Trial for Church Protest

Update from
Two members of the Russia’s dissident band Pussy Riot have fled the country to avoid prosecution for a peaceful protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin inside an Orthodox church. Three members of the group were sentenced to two years in prison for the protest earlier this month. A judge rejected the argument their act was a form of political protest, instead ruling it was motivated by religious hatred. The two members who fled the country took part in the initial protest but have not been jailed.
The 2012 Olympics in London were great.

Watching the Games reminded me of a news item I had been meaning to share.

In Russia, three members of a feminist punk band are on trial this week and could face up to seven years in a Russian Prison for staging a church protest against Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

In February, members of the group Pussy Riot rushed before the altar in one of Russia’s main Orthodox cathedrals wearing dresses, tights and brightly colored balaclavas. (Wikipedia says a balaclava is a form of cloth headgear that covers the whole head, exposing only part of the face. Often only the eyes or eyes and mouth are left exposed).

They danced, genuflected and prayed to the Virgin Mary to expel Putin, who is now serving a third term as Russia’s President. The band-mates, all in their twenties, have been in jail for five months and could face up to seven years on charges of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility." Two of the women have small children. In a rally outside the courtroom, a supporter of the band called for their immediate release.
Vitaly Zalomov: "This is not a trial. This is revenge. You see, the authorities have reached a point where they don’t abide by the law themselves. For a misdemeanor, let’s face it, people are thrown into jail. And they’ve been holding them there, young mothers, for half a year already."
The trial comes amid fears of an increasing crackdown on dissent in Russia. On Tuesday, Russian investigators charged anti-corruption blogger and activist Alexei Navalny with embezzlement, a crime that carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

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