Pussy Riot band members await sentencing

2012-08-17 14:45
A masked demonstrator holds a banner in support of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot. (Markus Schreiber, AP)

A masked demonstrator holds a banner in support of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot. (Markus Schreiber, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Moscow - A Moscow court on Friday found guilty three young members of a feminist punk band who captured global attention by defying the Russian authorities and ridiculing President Vladimir Putin in a church. Sentencing is expected later on Friday.

Judge Marina Syrova told the packed courtroom that the three Pussy Riot protest band members had "carefully planned" their 21 February "Punk Prayer" performance inside the Christ the Saviour Cathedral.

"Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich committed hooliganism - in other words, a grave violation of public order," she said.

"The court finds them guilty. The court reached this decision based on testimony of the defendants themselves and other evidence."

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and her band mates Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich exchanged a few quick smiles as they heard the verdict from inside the glass enclosure reserved for defendants.

The judge said the three displayed a "clear disrespect toward society" by bursting into Russia's most important church just weeks before the 4 March elections which saw Putin storm his way to an historic third term.

Supporters held apart

The prosecution has sought three years of corrective labour for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

The judge opened the hearing with dozens of passionate band and Orthodox Church followers being held apart by riot police and Western diplomats jostling with reporters for a spot inside the courtroom.

Witnesses saw several Pussy Riot supporters - the radical leftist leader Sergei Udaltsov among them - being taken away into waiting vans by police.

"Let Pussy Riot and all their supporters burn in hell," one church supporter screamed amid the tumult.

The once-unheralded band members - two of them mothers and none older than 30 years old - have already been held in pre-trial detention for five months despite international protests about their treatment by Putin's team.

The three have asked the faithful to forgive them for causing offence but vigorously defended their view that Russia had made little progress in the 12 years of Putin's domination from the worst of its totalitarian days.

'Let him ask for forgiveness'

"I do not believe in this court. There is no court. It is an illusion," Tolokonnikova said in reference to Russian judges' propensity to toe the Kremlin line in big cases.

But the 22-year-old stressed that she would never ask Putin for a pardon. "Let him ask you and me for forgiveness instead," she told the opposition Novaya Gazeta paper in an interview published hours before the verdict.

The conviction was issued as Pussy Riot release rallies began to be staged from Sydney to New York and a growing list of celebrities joined in a campaign directed against Putin's crackdown on dissent.

The band mates had pulled on knitted balaclavas and stripped down to short fluorescent dresses near the altar of Moscow's biggest cathedral on 21 February before belting out a raucous chorus calling on the Virgin Mary to "drive out Putin".

The verdict is being delivered in the same week that Putin marks the first 100 days of a third Kremlin term he has already used to slap new fines and restrictions on protests and political organisations with foreign sources of income.

Yet the moves - all stemming from Putin's charge that Washington was funding the historic protests against his return to the Kremlin last winter - appear to be backfiring.

Tense diplomatic exchanges


A poll published on the front page of the Vedomosti business daily on Friday showed Putin's approval rating slipping to a post-election low of 48% - a notable slide from the 60% he enjoyed around his May inauguration.

The former KGB agent's return to a Kremlin post he used to centralise power in 2000-2008 has been repeatedly punctuated by tense diplomatic exchanges with Western governments fearful about the future of free expression in Russia.

The US State Department has already angered Moscow by voicing formal concern about the "politically motivated prosecution of the Russian opposition".

A poll conducted by the respected private Levada Centre shows opinion has shifted firmly in the singers' favour after the public initially backed a full seven-year sentence applicable to the crime.

Read more on:    pussy riot  |  vladimir putin  |  russia  |  religion  |  russia protests
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Tuesday Mitchells Plain - 19:35 PM
    Road name: M7 Vanguard Drive
    ROADWORKS - traffic restrictions between the R300 and Highlands Drive - expect delays
  • Tuesday Belhar - 17:58 PM
    Road name: Belhar Drive
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Alabama Drive
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Apple iPad 3 Black 64GB 9.7" Tablet With WiFi & 4G

Retina Display Finally the incredible Retina display technology from the iPhone...

From R7999.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Something may come up to alert you of your security needs. It may be that you need to create a better structure for your finances...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.