“Pussy Riot,” Russian Feminist Punk Band, to Remain in Jail

I don’t know how many CLR Forum readers are following this story, but it’s a major news item in Russia and has drawn attention in the international human rights community as well. Last February, in a protest against Vladimir Putin, a Russian feminist punk band called “Pussy Riot” (above) stormed the altar at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow and performed performed a”punk prayer” called “Mother of God, Cast Putin Out.” You can find the video on the internet; it’s pretty juvenile. Authorities arrested three members of the band for the crime of “hooliganism,” which carries a sentence of seven  years. They have been in jail since March. A Russian court today extended their pretrial detention for another six months, to January 2013. The imprisonment and prosecution has become a cause célèbre in Russia, pitting the Orthodox Church hierarchy, which resents the cathedral protest as a sacrilege, against liberals, who resent the Orthodox Church’s support for Putin and see the threatened punishment as arbitrary and extreme. Amnesty International has declared the members of Pussy Riot “prisoners of conscience.” Russians themselves are divided about the case. In a recent poll of Muscovites, half said they opposed the prosecution, but 36% approved.

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