Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Competing narratives in Malaysia Airlines disaster coverage

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Kenya : Police arrest 8 over Mombasa rampage

Read more

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo turn the tide?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

FASHION

Who's next in Paris, an event with international ready-to-wear and fashion accessories collections

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Muslims and Christians clean up Bangui, and violence spirals out of control in Algeria's Gardaia

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Is there such thing as 'telegenic' victims of war?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

2014-07-22 07:21 IN THE FRENCH PRESS

Read more

  • Defying UK, France to proceed with sale of warship to Russia

    Read more

  • Israel hits targets in Gaza despite diplomatic efforts for ceasefire

    Read more

  • Flight MH17 shot down ‘by mistake', US intelligence indicates

    Read more

  • US courts issue conflicting reports on Obamacare

    Read more

  • Video: Lebanon fears fallout from regional turmoil

    Read more

  • Widodo wins Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • US, European airlines suspend flights to Tel Aviv over Israel-Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • Australian veteran Rogers claims 16th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • France gives go-ahead to pro-Palestinian Paris rally

    Read more

  • French Jews mourn French-Israeli soldier killed in Gaza

    Read more

  • PSG punished by UEFA for abuse of disabled Chelsea fans

    Read more

  • Colombia's Rodriguez signs '€80m' contract with Real Madrid

    Read more

  • Children killed in minibus crash in eastern France

    Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ Paris suburb

    Read more

Europe

Russia's Pussy Riot activists await trial verdict

Video by Shaun Walker

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-08-17

A Moscow court will deliver a verdict Friday against three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot, who caused global embarrassment for President Vladimir Putin after their church protest and subsequent arrests captured worldwide attention.

REUTERS – A Russian judge delivers a verdict on Friday against three members of the Pussy Riot punk band whose trial for staging an anti-Kremlin protest in a church has provoked an international outcry against President Vladimir Putin.

The state prosecutor has demanded a three-year jail sentence over the women’s storming of the altar under the golden domes of Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral in bright balaclavas, tights and short skirts, an act she called an abuse of God.

Putin’s opponents portray the trial as part of a wider crackdown by the former KGB spy to crush their protest movement and pop stars led by Madonna have campaigned for the women’s release in a case Washington says is politically motivated.

In a sign of the tension over the trial in a small Moscow courtroom, which has divided Russian Orthodox Christians, Judge Marina Syrova was assigned bodyguards on Thursday following what authorities said were threats against her.

“I am not afraid of your poorly concealed fraud of a verdict in this so-called court because it can deprive me of my freedom,” Maria Alyokhina, 24, one of the defendants, said during the trial. “No one will take my inner freedom away.”

Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, say their protest on Feb. 21 was intended to highlight the close ties between the Russian Orthodox Church and state, and not to offend believers.

Their lawyers say they have not received a fair trail and the verdict will be dictated by the Kremlin.

Putin’s supporters deny this and portray the women as blasphemers and self-publicists who should be punished for committing a premeditated outrage against the Church.

“It was a conscious deed. They understood quite clearly where they were going and why,” said Vladimir Burmatov, who represents Putin’s United Russia party in parliament.

Judge Syrova will start reading the verdict at 3 p.m. (1100 GMT) and could hand down a sentence by the evening on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

Radical protest


Pussy Riot was formed last year in anger at Putin’s decision to return to the presidency in an election after four years as premier. A feminist punk collective of about 10 women, its trademark is radical political protests designed to shock.

The opposition says Putin saw the trial initially as a chance to strengthen his relationship with the influential Russian Orthodox Church - about 70 percent of Russians say they follow the faith - but his plans backfired.

Although believers were united in outrage that the band thrashed out a “punk prayer” deriding Putin in a place they consider sacrosanct, they were split into two camps.

Some demanded a tough sentence but others were angered by the Church hierarchy’s lack of forgiveness and calls for “divine retribution”, as well as Patriarch Kirill’s dabbling in politics when he praised Putin’s rule as a “miracle of God”.

Aware that a long sentence could reinforce the picture Pussy Riot have painted of him as intolerant and repressive, Putin told reporters this month that although the women had done “nothing good”, they should not be judged too harshly.

But the damage to his image abroad has already been done, and the divisions between his supporters and opponents have widened, risking polarising society even more than when protests took off against his 12-year-rule during the winter.

Even if the judge shows leniency, protest leader Alexei Navalny says Putin will not now relax pressure on his opponents in his new six-year term as president, which could extend his rule as president or prime minister to 18 years.

“I know for a fact that they can now jail anyone,” said Navalny, who has been charged with stealing from a state timber firm and could face up to 10 years in jail.

Another protest organiser, Gennady Gudkov, is being investigated over his business activities and several protesters face investigation over their role in a demonstration that turned violent on May 6, the eve of Putin’s Kremlin return.

Parliament has also rushed through laws increasing fines for protesters, tightening controls on the Internet - which is used to arrange protests - and imposing stricter rules on defamation.

 

Date created : 2012-08-17

  • RUSSIA

    Prosecutors seek three-year sentence for Pussy Riot

    Read more

  • RUSSIA

    Putin requests leniency for Pussy Riot punks

    Read more

  • RUSSIA

    Russian punks go on trial for anti-Putin performance

    Read more

COMMENT(S)