Friday, August 17, 2012

Moscow court finds Pussy Riot guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred



The Khamovniki District Court in Moscow convicted the three members of the punk-rock collective 'Pussy Riot' for "hooliganism [. . .] motivated by religious hatred," Judge Marina Syrov said in her ruling. Sentencing has not yet been pronounced. 
The trial, which has drawn hundreds of journalists from around the world, is also being followed by thousands of people outside the courthouse.

On 21 February, the three women-Alyokhina (24), Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (22) and Yekaterina Samutsevich (29)-and other members of the group performed a song at the altar of Saint Saviour Cathedral, shocking the worshippers present.

The lyrics called on the Virgin to "throw Putin out," also slamming the close ties between Orthodox Church leaders and the president, whom they accuse of using his relationship with ranking clerical officials to stay in power.

The protest angered the Orthodox Church, which responded accusing the group of hooliganism and insulting religious faith.

In a few months, the Pussy Riot affair became a world cause célèbre. Demonstrations are expected today in 54 cities, including New York, London, Madrid, Berlin, Sydney, Paris and Warsaw.

The group's supporters have gathered in front of the courthouse in Khamovniki District, where the trial is being held. Activists in Russia's main cities have covered statues with colourful balaclavas, the group's symbol.

In recent days, singers and other artists like Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel and Madonna as well as other rock singers and Hollywood actors have spoken out in favour of three women, 
who have become the symbol of freedom of expression.

During a concert in Moscow on 8 August, Madonna read messages defending the three women, drawing the ire of Russian Vice President Dmitry Rogozin.

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