Anti-Putin Pussy Riot members sent back to prison “in act of political repression”

August 2012

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Back in February our news pages reported that all four members of Russian female punk rock quartet Pussy Riot had been arrested after performing ‘Putin has Pissed himself’ in Red Square and then on the 27th March we reported that three of the feminist punks were in more trouble – after an unsanctioned performance of their punk prayer “Virgin Mary Mother of God Expel Putin!” in Moscow’s St Basil’s Cathedral of Christ The Saviour. Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church and a public supporter of President Putin, said the band do the “devils work” and state television denounced the women’s actions as “disgusting”. Rather alarmingly three members of ten members plus collective, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (23), Yekaterina Samutsevich (19) and Maria Alehina (24), remain in prison on charges of aggravated hooliganism which could eventually mean a seven-year sentence. They deny being the mask clad figures at the cathedral but were denied bail at a early July hearing by Judge Marina Syrova in the Khamovnichesky District Court and having been in prison for five months already, now face for six more months in custody while the trial progresses although the trial is scheduled to begin on July 30th. The Guardian reports that many Muscovites were happy enough to see a tough response to the band’s irreverent act of rebellion, which was aimed at President Vladimir Putin, but with the long period of incarceration and opposition to Putin spreading, support for the trio has grown, even among those who at first condemned them. Now the country’s arts community is voicing its opposition and now 100 cultural figures who signed an open letter last week calling on the state to release the women, in an indication that popular unease at their plight is growing. Amnesty International has also called for the three women’s release. It seems that the trial will be streamed from the Court’s website, although the Moscow Times reported a Kremlin insider saying that custodial sentences for all three women had been “predetermined”.

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