Russian Band Pussy Riot Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

High Profile 'Hooliganism' Trial Related to Anti-Putin Performance Ends With Harsh Sentence

Protests were reported today in front of the courthouse as a Russian judge handed down a two year prison sentence to the three members of all-female punk band Pussy Riot on charges of “hooliganism” related to a performance at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow.

The women had performed a song at the cathedral urging the Virgin Mary to become a feminist and oust President Vladimir Putin. They were accused of blasphemy and “doing the work of Satan” by Russia’s religious leader Kirill I.

Though in theory the charges were based entirely on performing a religiously offensive song at the cathedral and not on its political content, most agree that the prosecution’s aggressiveness and attempts to seek harsh sentences are motivated by making an example of Putin’s critics.

The case has sparked enormous debate within Russia about the extent of legal support for the church, and vice versa. Polls after the case showed that 58 percent of Russians felt the sentence was too harsh.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

  • R.C.

    The prosecution’s aggressiveness and attempts to seek harsh sentences were NOT motivated by making an example of Putin’s critics, but by making an example of the defense and their supporters from turning a simple case into a cause celebre. No court anywhere in the world would tolerate the amount of contempt & grandstanding that was heaped upon it by the Pussy Riots defense team and it's international echo chamber. When you sit up and claim you don't recognize the authority of the court, in my experience, they are going to show you who's boss…and that's what happened.

    I keep hearing about Putin's prosecution of these girls, but to my knowledge, Putin had nothing personally to do with their arrest and prosecution. In fact, I believe he has only commented on the issue once by stating that he did not like their stunt, but they should be granted leniency. Putin the omnipotent overlord who controls every single thing that happens in Russia, regardless of significance, is a creation of the west and their opposition in that country. Given the host of more pressing problems plaguing Russia, I'd be surprised if he's given them much thought.

  • R.C.

    Note: that should read "The IMAGE of Putin as the omnipotent overlord…………….." in the 2nd paragraph.

    Sorry.

  • Karl

    A perfect example of journalism of the pack.

  • El Tonno

    Really, who cares about the Pussies.

    Unrelated, and in the department of "justice begins at home"

    Texas teacher gets 5 years prison for sex with 18-year old students

  • brainfan

    Yet another phony group with Western support, agitating to make Russia look bad. This was no punk rock group. They were just vacuous hooligans. Two years is certainly an excessive punishment for what amounts to disorderly conduct, but morons like this only make truly meaningful protest more dangerous for those who actually endeavor to effect positive change.

    • R.C.

      What's particularly interesting is that many European countries have laws pretty identical to Russia's article 13 which Pussy Riot was prosecuted under – including Britain. There was a case with a popular singer in Poland offending the church and paying a fine just a few months ago. Was there an uproar in the media? Did anyone in the west even know or hear about this? Why weren't the western celebrities like Sting and Madonna making this an issue ? Maybe it has to do with the fact that Poland is part of the western imperium now, so as is the case with other countries apart of this mob, their transgressions are simply ignored (along with the atrocious gulf states), so they instead focus on "rogue states" like Iran, Russia, China, leftist Latin American countries, etc; While I don't agree with the sentence that was handed down by the court, it's not my place to decide the nature of their laws and how they govern in Russia – especially once you consider we're having SERIOUS problems governing here in America.

      Sometimes I wish that "Prime Directive" common on Star Trek applied to countries in this world. I personally believe humanity would be a lot better off.

  • stoidi

    What ever happened to the Dixie Chicks?

    • MoT

      Yeah, but THEY at least recorded some music. This lot seems more content in shoving frozen chickens up their vaginas, public orgies and shouting out scatalogical treatises in a church while claiming it's "art".

  • james

    Imagine what would happen to them if they did something similar in a southern hillbilly town blaspheming the idiotic zionist so called christians. The western world is so hypocritical it drips.
    Go Russia

    • Mike

      So true with anything Zionist in America Israel and many other countrys.No such thing as real freedom of speech.

    • R.C.

      Even if they were/are sincere, the whole circus is a stupid excuse for western triumphalism…

      if these very bold and mildly talented folks had tried this stunt in the fifth avenue synagogue or St Patrick's cathedral in New York, they'd probably have been beaten to death by parishioners before the police could get to them…

      a sickening example of social distortion , political propaganda and consciousness control.

  • backblow

    According to my reading of the Russian Criminal code, they can apply for parole after serving a third of their sentence(8 months) although they would have to accept their guilt. That means with time already served(5 months), they could be out in three months. If they serve any longer it will probably be due to their obtuseness rather than any intervention by Putin.

  • John Ellis

    A workable government — One that matches the public’s morality

    An honest government protecting an honest public, it would have no need to deny anyone freedom of speech, even if they advocated a violent overthrow of the government.

    But, as the grand scheme of things is to see just how much corruption the human race can stomach, the Russian government is now in a bit of a pickle. For if it gets too corrupt the public will overthrow it, and if it gets too honest the public could never stomach the stress of it.

  • rwe2late

    Thinking of Empire:

    We citizens certainly have unquestionable moral standing to denounce them Russkies,
    because we do not allow OUR government to commit such HORRIFYING outrages.
    We are the “best”, above reproach.

    Notwithstanding the war crime invasions, torture, assassinations, daily severe sentences for victimless crimes, imprisonment without trial, or our Homeland version of political “hooliganism” –
    WE have “free speech.” Trumps everything.

    How dare they insult our fine sensibilities.
    Our courts would NEVER give sentences so harsh, even if neo-Nazis demonstrated in a synagogue against Zionist political influence.
    Nor would anything so bad be done by our dependent allies like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kosovo, Colombia, Israel, or Honduras.

    Russia needs a “humanitarian” invasion by USA! Iran next and China too! Don’t forget Syria!
    Go team USA!
    Go get ‘em.

  • R.C.

    Evidence that we Americans need to start with our own country before arrogantly pointing fingers elsewhere:
    http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2012/06/28/snyder-oks

  • TooTrue

    Next week you'll be hearing about Beaver Chaos, brought to you by the Russian mafia, proud former sponsor of Pussy Riot.

  • charlesluke

    What possible reason can there be to put this tacky Western feminist propaganda on this valuable anti-war web site? This belief in the right of women to do exactly as they please in all cases is pathetic. We the nouveau Viking raiders, northern European forest barbarians and a few distant atolls and remote mountain valleys have ever let themselves be led by queens. These are the same barbarians who move in outlawing pot while they build bars and whorehouses. This kind of feminist assumptions have been outrageously used to demonize the Afghans in particular and Muslims in general. These people ban alcohol almost completely, while the vast majority of incidents in the West involving women are alcohol driven. All great, enduring world religions have been based on patriarchy. This assumption that Western women have discovered eternal truth that has evaded all the great leaders of mankind, and that truth is to be ascertained by majority vote. This is great for selling junk to teenagers, but such nations will not last for long.

  • R.C.

    A few points.

    The Pussies did not perform the song in the cathedral. It was edited into the video later. It could just as well be "god save the queen" or "Girl from Ipanema." No need to cite the lyrics here. This is to say, those who were present in the cathedral at the time of performance (the plaintiffs) could not possibly deduce the act's political nature from the PR's actions. To them the spectacle was an act of pure and simple hooliganism in violation of their constitutional rights.

    Why it took so long to legally process the case (5 months)… According to attorneys representing the plaintiffs, it was the pussies and their legal defense who prolonged the procedure by refusing to acquaint themselves with the court documents and respond to claims in due manner.

    As to uniqueness of this case… There is nothing specifically Russian about it. All liberal democracies have laws protecting one's freedom of religion, which means that peace of religious congregations cannot be disturbed by anyone at will without breaking the laws

  • law

    International law can refer to three things: public international law, private international law or conflict of laws and the law of supranational organizations.