Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles (part 2)

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Over 70 killed in Nigeria bus station terror attack

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Pornagraphy without borders is key benefit of EU, says French MEP

Read more

FOCUS

China trade deal: is Taiwan's identity under threat?

Read more

ENCORE!

“Booty Looting” memory and mediums

Read more

WEB NEWS

Another Google Glass wearer attacked in San Francisco

Read more

LIFESTYLES

Sustainable cuisine

Read more

DEBATE

Eastern Ukraine: the escalation (part 2)

Read more

  • Rescue effort under way after ferry sinks off S. Korean coast

    Read more

  • Putin says Ukraine 'on brink of war' as Kiev evicts separatists

    Read more

  • Syria 'torture' photos silence UN Security Council members

    Read more

  • More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in northeast Nigeria

    Read more

  • 'Miracle girl' healthy after seven-organ transplant in Paris

    Read more

  • Paris police memo calling for Roma eviction ‘rectified’

    Read more

  • Burgundy digs into France's bureaucratic 'mille-feuille'

    Read more

  • French court drops ‘hate speech’ case against Bob Dylan

    Read more

  • Algeria rights crackdown slammed ahead of election

    Read more

  • Iraq closes notorious Abu Ghraib jail over security fears

    Read more

  • Berlusconi sentenced to community service for tax fraud

    Read more

  • In ‘Tom at the Farm’, Xavier Dolan blends Hitchcock and homoeroticism

    Read more

  • US to mark one year since Boston Marathon bombing

    Read more

  • Deadly fire rips through Chile’s Valparaiso for third day running

    Read more

  • India's Supreme Court establishes third gender category

    Read more

  • Bluefin-21 'mini-sub' to redeploy for Malaysian jet

    Read more

  • Paris hotel that hosted Holocaust survivors shuts for renovation

    Read more

  • Guardian, Washington Post win Pulitzers for NSA revelations

    Read more

  • French police begin mass DNA test in hunt for school rapist

    Read more

  • Americas to see 'Blood Moon' total lunar eclipse

    Read more

  • France looks to lift ailing economy with business-friendly diplomacy

    Read more

Europe

Pussy riot prison sentences spark criticism

©

Video by Stephen Carroll

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-08-18

The EU, US and a number of celebrity figures have spoken out against a Russian court’s decision to sentence the three members of the punk band Pussy Riot to two years in prison for “hooliganism”, calling the judgment “disproportionate”.

REUTERS - European nations and the United States, as well as some celebrities, voiced sharp criticism of Russia on Friday over jail sentences handed to three members of the punk band Pussy Riot who protested against President Vladimir Putin in a church.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said the two-year sentences give to the women were “disproportionate” to the crime and added to the intimidation of opposition activists in Russia.

The United States expressed disappointment over the verdict and also called the sentences disproportionate.

The three women were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for performing a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral in which they called on the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of President Vladimir Putin.

“Together with the reports of the band members’ mistreatment during pre-trial detention and the reported irregularities of the trial, it (the verdict) puts a serious question mark over Russia’s respect for international obligations of fair, transparent and independent legal process,” Ashton said.

“This case adds to the recent upsurge in politically motivated intimidation and prosecution of opposition activists in the Russian Federation, a trend that is of growing concern to the European Union,” she said in a statement.

"Quite a dramatic atmosphere outside the court"

Human rights groups urged Russian authorities to overturn the verdict and free the three women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30.

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement: “While we understand the group’s behaviour was offensive to some, we have serious concerns about the way that these young women have been treated by the Russian judicial system.”

The Pussy Riot case, seen as a test of the extent of Putin’s tolerance of dissent, has added to the strain already placed on relations between Moscow and European governments by their opposed positions on the crisis in Syria.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the sentence was “excessively harsh” and “not compatible with the European values of the rule of law and democracy to which Russia, as a member of the Council of Europe, has committed itself.”

“A dynamic civil society and politically active citizens are a necessary precondition for Russia’s modernisation, not a threat,” she said.

British Foreign Minister Alistair Burt said in a statement that the verdict “calls into question Russia’s commitment to protect fundamental rights and freedoms.”

‘Outrageous’

Although celebrities such as Madonna, who had spoken out against the charges previously, did not comment on Friday, others took to Twitter to voice their concern.

Rocker Bryan Adams tweeted “Outrageous ... Russian singers jailed just for speaking their mind?”

On his Twitter account, “Lord of the Rings” actor Elijah Wood posted “a shame to hear the Pussy Riot were found guilty, but not surprised.”

Amnesty International said the trial was politically motivated and the women were wrongfully prosecuted for a legitimate, if potentially offensive, protest action, adding that the verdict was “a bitter blow to freedom of expression” in Russia.

Amnesty “considers all three activists to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs,” it said in a statement.

“The Russian authorities should overturn the court ruling and release the members of Pussy Riot immediately and unconditionally,” said John Dalhuisen, director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Programme.

Europe’s main security and rights body, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said the verdict was part of a growing tendency towards curbing freedom of expression.

“I see a trend in various countries where the authorities, social and religious groups and courts are taking a more restrictive stance on content considered to be offensive, morally questionable or dangerous for children,” said Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE in Europe’s Representative on Freedom of the Media.

“Most of the time it is a pretext for censoring content that is simply not mainstream and critical,” Mijatovic said.

The Pussy Riot's "Punk Prayer"

Date created : 2012-08-18

  • RUSSIA

    Pussy Riot punk protesters get two-year jail sentences

    Read more

  • RUSSIA

    Russia's Pussy Riot trio found guilty of hooliganism

    Read more

  • RUSSIA

    Prosecutors seek three-year sentence for Pussy Riot

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)