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Pussy Riot Found Guilty Of ‘Hooliganism’, Sentenced To Two Years

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Photo courtesy of band

Photo courtesy of band

Yesterday we introduced you to Pussy Riot, the feminist punk band from Russia that’s made international headlines with a controversial court case. Three members of the radical collective were jailed without bail in March on charges of “hooliganism,” of which they pleaded not guilty.

The five-month case came to a head this morning, when a final verdict was made: guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred,” with all three women sentenced to two years in prison starting from their date of arrest in March. Prosecutors were looking to jail the women – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30 – for three years in prison, with the maximum sentencing reaching seven years.

According to The Guardian, a number of protesters have been arrested outside of the courtroom.

1499298731 Pussy Riot Found Guilty Of Hooliganism, Sentenced To Two Years

What, exactly, warrants charges of “hooliganism”? On February 21st, Pussy Riot put on an illegal, guerrilla-style performance (as all their performances are), at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow, Russia’s main Orthodox church. The public display lasted less than one minute, during which time Pussy Riot members screamed a “punk prayer.” The chantings included the following phrases, in protest of Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Virgin Mary, Mother of God, become a feminist” and “put Putin out.” Video of the scene was later incorporated into a music video, seen below.

Pussy Riot’s three jailed members are not its only ones, however; the group is a collective with various activists joining their performances since forming last September. Their motivation is to speak out against Vladimir Putin, who returned to his post as Russia’s president back in May (he stepped down in 2008, only to serve once more as the Russian Prime Minister). The group has put on radical performance art in public places like Moscow’s Red Square, maintaining anonymity by wearing balaclava head gear.

In addition to Amnesty International, thousands of supporters worldwide have been protesting in support of Pussy Riot. A number of famous musicians have joined the cause as well. Yesterday, Paul McCartney tweeted a message of support: “I hope you can stay strong and believe that I and many others like me who believe in free speech will do everything in our power to support you and the idea of artistic freedom,” he wrote. The Who’s Pete Townshend, members of the Pet Shop Boys and more published a letter in The Times of London, urging Putin to give Pussy Riot a fair hearing. Sting posted a statement on his website, while Madonna had the group’s name written on her back during a concert in Moscow last mont, and urged free speech worldwide. Peter Gabriel and members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers penned letters of support. The list goes on.

- Jillian Mapes, CBS Local

(Photo by Getty Images)

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