venerdì 17 agosto 2012

‘Pussy Riot’ Found Guilty of Hooliganism


via Byline

Three members of Pussy Riot were arrested in March after a guerrilla performance in Moscow’s main cathedral. Photograph: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

‘Pussy Riot’ Found Guilty of Hooliganism

 Stephen: This story has held Russia and many around the world captive (pun intended) for the past few months. 

On 21 February this year,  four members of the band Pussy Riot walked into the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, and performed a political satire song. They thought they were highlighting the church’s increasingly close relationship with the state and what they saw as campaigning for Putin by Patriarch Kirill, its leader.

But video of the stunt went viral and launched a passionate discussion about the church’s collaboration with Putin. State-run media decried the performance. Two weeks later, the women were arrested. Now they have been charged and found guilty.

Pussy Riot Found Guilty of Hooliganism

Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov among those arrested as hundreds gather outside Russian court where the verdict is delivered.

Here’s a good backgrounder first:

Click here to view the embedded video.

By Associated Press, The Guardian – August 17, 2012

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/17/pussy-riot-found-guilty-hooliganism

Russian police have rounded up pro-Pussy Riot protesters, including former world chess champion Garry Kasparov and leftist opposition group leader Sergei Udaltsov after the feminist punk band was found guilty of hooliganism in one of the most closely watched cases in recent Russian history.

Hundreds of Pussy Riot supporters had filled a narrow street outside the court where the verdict was delivered, chanting “Russia without Putin!” amid heavy police presence.

The judge said the women had committed hooliganism driven by religious hatred.

The three were arrested in March after a guerrilla performance in Moscow’s main cathedral calling for the Virgin Mary to protect Russia against Vladimir Putin, who was elected to a new term as Russia’s president a few days later.

They face a maximum seven years in prison. The sentence is to be handed down later on Friday.

The case has attracted international attention as an emblem of Russia’s intolerance of dissent. It also underlines the vast influence of the Russian Orthodox Church. Although church and state are formally separate, the church identifies itself as the heart of Russian national identity and critics say its strength effectively makes it a quasi-state entity.

Protests timed to just before the verdict or soon afterward were planned in more than three dozen cities worldwide.

Prosecutors have asked for three-year sentences, down from the possible seven-year maximum and Putin himself has said he hopes the sentencing is not “too severe”.

Celebrities including Paul McCartney, Madonna and Bjork have called for them to be freed, and protests are planned around the world Friday.

Before Friday’s proceedings began, defence lawyer Nikolai Polozov said the women “hope for an acquittal but they are ready to continue to fight”.

There was a heavy police presence around the court building in central Moscow, where hundreds of protesters and band supporters were gathering.

Even if the women are sentenced only to time already served, the case has already strongly clouded Russia’s esteem overseas and stoked the resentment of opposition partisans who have turned out in a series of massive rallies since last winter.

The case comes in the wake of several recently passed laws cracking down on opposition, including one that raised the fine for taking part in an unauthorised demonstrations by 150 times to 300,000 rubles (about $9,000).

Another measure requires non-government organizations that both engage in vaguely defined political activity and receive funding from abroad to register as “foreign agents”.

Read a detailed Pussy Riot background story here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/17/pussy-riot-trial-representatives-generation?intcmp=239

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