As Three Pussy Riot Members Are Jailed For Two Years, Why HAVE They Been So Heavily Punished?

17 August 2012 by

Pussy Riot

It was nothing more than an impromptu political statement – singing anti-President Putin songs in a Moscow church.

But today punk band Pussy Riot have paid the ultimate price after being jailed for two years by a Russian court. Why? The three women – Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhola Tolokonnikova, 23, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 – were bizarrely found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

It’s a harsh sentence that will stun their supporters – including Madonna and Paul McCartney. And it begs the question, why HAVE the punk band members been so heavily penalised?

 Madonna shows her support for Pussy Riot

Madonna shows her support for Pussy Riot

According to many commentators, they have become an increasing PR headache for Putin… and even a threat to his leadership.

It was in February when – amid mass protests against Putin in the weeks leading up to his controversial re-election – Pussy Riot gave an impromptu performance in Christ the Saviour Cathedral.

Clad in coloured balaclavas, five band members – along with supporters and a film team – jumped over a gold rail and onto the steps of the pulpit. They danced and played air guitar, while calling for the Virgin Mary to deliver Russia from Putin’s rule. After less than a minute they were dragged away by security guards, but the footage – called ‘The Virgin Prayer’ – was put on YouTube, quickly going viral.

After being arrested and held in custody for five months, the women – two of whom have young children – now face two years in jail.

Pussy Riot supporter

A Pussy Riot supporter outside court today

Speaking through her lawyer on Twitter, Nadezhola said, ‘Our imprisonment serves as a clear and unambiguous sign that freedom is being taken away from the entire country.’

And her husband, Pyotr Verzilov, told the BBC, ‘No-one in Russia, no-one outside the world has any doubt that it's Putin personally who will be choosing the sentence for the three members of Pussy Riot. Everyone understands that in Russia, it's Putin who gets the decision in the court cases, not the judge, not anyone else.’

John Dalhuisen, Director of Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia Programme, says, 'The Russian authorities should overturn the court ruling and release the members of Pussy Riot immediately and unconditionally.'


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AnnaLee Couture (Fri Aug 17 16:50:22 BST 2012): This is really messed up.....