Moscow trial begins of Pussy Riot three
Punk protesters face prison if found guilty of religious hooliganism
By Javier Pes. Web only
Published online: 31 July 2012
Three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot went on trial in Moscow yesterday (30 July) for the protest they held in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral in February. The three women, all in their 20s, could be punished with seven-year prison sentences if found guilty of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" for performing an anti-Putin "punk prayer service" in the cathedral.
In February, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich stood in front of the cathedral’s altar dressed in ski-masks and danced wildly while making the sign of the cross. The Pussy Riot members also performed Holy Shit, a song that refers to the Russian Orthodox Church's close ties to Vladmir Putin, the Russian President, who was campaigning for re-election at the time. The lyrics included the lines: "Holy Mother, Blessed Virgin, chase Putin out!"
Patriarch Kirill I, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church who has close ties with Putin, denounced the protest in an official statement in which he referred to "our pious forefathers" who built the cathedral that the women had "desecrated". The Orthodox Church called the group's actions blasphemous and called for the women's prosecution.
The three suspects deny that they intended to insult the Orthodox Church in their protest against Putin's "authoritarian and anti-feminist" policies. The high-profile trial, seen as a test case by critics of Putin, continues in a Moscow court.
Meanwhile, protesters have been gathering outside the court to show their support for the accused who were denied bail after they were arrested more than five months ago.
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