Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FASHION

Paris, Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015.

Read more

REPORTERS

Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

2014-07-11 21:47 AFRICA NEWS

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Finally, a good use for new app "Yo"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Politics: parties under pressure

Read more

FOCUS

In Burma, the rise of radical Buddhism

Read more

  • UN Security Council calls for Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire

    Read more

  • The third-place playoff: the World Cup game no one wants to play

    Read more

  • France’s Kadri wins eighth stage at Tour de France

    Read more

  • Legal challenge to French mayor’s ban of Muslim hijab on beach

    Read more

  • Last of the Ramones, Tommy Ramone, dies aged 62

    Read more

  • Video: Outrage in wake of deadly Casablanca buildings collapse

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces ‘executed prisoners in reprisal’ for ISIS killings

    Read more

  • Ukraine promises retaliation after rebel assault

    Read more

  • Putin revives old Cuban flame and eyes Latin American minerals

    Read more

  • Kerry holds all-night talks with Afghan presidential rivals

    Read more

  • Amazon snubs French free delivery ban with one-cent charge

    Read more

  • Cleveland's NBA fans hail 'return of king' LeBron James

    Read more

  • Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

    Read more

  • Magnitude 6.8 quake, small tsunami hit east Japan

    Read more

  • Suspect in Brussels Jewish Museum shooting drops extradition appeal

    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

Comments

COMMENT(S)