Fri, 17th Aug 2012
The three members of Pussy Riot have been sentenced to two years imprisonment each.
Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 were found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred today at Moscow’s Khamovnichesky Court.
Their conviction comes after the were arrested in February this year when they staged a flashmob style performance at Moscow's Christ The Saviour Cathedral, protesting against the Orthodox Christian church’s support of president Vladimir Putin.
It was viewed as a punk prayer entreating the Virgin Mary to protect Russia from Vladimir Putin, who at the time was on the verge of winning a new term as Russian president.
Judge Marina Syrova said the actions of the women had "crudely undermined social order". While delivering the verdict, she said that the women are sane and should be punished in accordance with the law. Prosecutors had requested a sentence of three years in the event of a guilty verdict. However, Judge Syrova listed attenuating circumstances, such as a lack of previous crime, positive character profiles and the fact that two of the women have children. They have already been detained for five months.
The court concluded that it is not possible to change the charges and make them less grave. Citing the motives of the crime and the attitude with which it was committed, the court deemed it necessary to issue a custodial sentence in order to "restore social justice"
The ruling follows a number of laws recently passed 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 €7,200). Another measure requires non-government organisations that both engage in vaguely defined political activity and receive funding from abroad to register as "foreign agents".
Large numbers of their supporters, as well as their opponents, had assembled outside the court building. Earlier today, Russian opposition leader Sergey Udaltsov was detained by police as he approached the police cordon and attempted to enter the court building