Russia: Pussy Riot found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison



Pussy Riot found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison

On 17 August 2012, the three members of the punk collective Pussy Riot received guilty verdicts and were each sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. According to the judge, they had “deeply insulted the faith of believers with their disrespectful criminal act and that the punk protest was blasphemous against the Orthodox Church.”

When the heavy prison sentence was announced it caused widespread outrage. PEN International called it “a huge blow for freedom of expression in Russia which highlights the growing trend of oppression in the country.”

On the day of the verdict announcement, Friday 17 August 2012, international human rights and freedom of expression groups together with committed activists staged events and happenings on five continents in more than 30 countries and in almost 70 cities. From Buenos Aires to Kaliningrad, from Perm to Brisbane.

Russian Embassies, Orthodox churches, public squares and other places have been confronted with thousands and thousands of people from all walks of life, who have staged events in solidarity with the Pussy Riot girls. Wearing colourful balaclavas, banners and signs calling for their release to the sound of speeches, concerts and other performances.

Since the Pussy Riot case started rolling, international organisations such as Freemuse, Amnesty International and the ‘FreePussyRiot’ campaign group have also lobbied and encouraged renowned and popular musicians such as Madonna, Franz Ferdinand, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, and Björk to show their solidary and support to the Pussy Riot group members.

The musicians showed their support to the Pussy Riot girls by sending solidarity letters, dedicating songs or concerts or speaking to the media in support of them and their right to express their thoughts and opinions through their musical and public performances

Intense media coverage
Freemuse’s phones had been ringing all day with journalists asking for statements and quotes for media and events taking place. Two Russian online news sites broadcasted live tv and news updates from the court room in Moscow. The popular online site was hacked numerous times by hackers during the day, leading to a media blackout on the heavy trafficked newssite.

Background: About Pussy Riot’s case in brief
Three members of Pussy Riot — a feminist protest punk and activist group which has staged a series of political happenings in Moscow — were detained in March 2012 after they had disrupted a service in a church in Moscow and staged a ‘punk prayer’ calling for the Holy Virgin Mary to please “throw out Putin.”

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Pussy Riot

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Sources – 17 August 2012:

‘Pussy Riot found guilty’

Rianovsti – 17 August 2012

‘Pussy Riot Trial Verdict: Live Updates’

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