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Russia Issues Heavier Punishment for Pussy Riot’s Anti-Putin Message

Pussy Riot Russia

When secular bands preform in a church there is always the possibility of controversy. However under the 1st Amendment, whether their lyrics are filled with satanic propaganda or anti-American slogans, they’re exercising their protected freedom of speech. That liberal nature doesn’t fly in Russia. In February, four members of the punk band Pussy Riot stormed the alter of the Cathedral of Christ in Moscow, wearing balaclavas and performed a song that was against President Vladimir Putin.

Here is the video of that performance:

Three women were arrested after the performance and have since been in custody for the past four months. On Friday they learned that their imprisonment has been extended for another six months and could end up being a seven year sentence. Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich, all in their 20s, are being accused of inciting religious hatred and ten witnesses have come forward saying that they have suffered from moral damage due to the performance. The media coverage has had a hand in shaping the form of this case, calling the women satanists. It seems in such a protest-ravaged city that the government has chosen to use this situation to set an example that no more terrorism will be tolerated. An expert from The New York Times article stated:

“The government picked a ripe opportunity to crack down, since many Russians found the cathedral performance offensive. It took months for the case to provoke support for the women, even in the opposition-minded city of Moscow. But the balance seemed to shift last month, when a roster of famous artists and musicians, including some vocal supporters of Mr. Putin, signed a petition contending that the case ‘compromises the Russian judicial system and undermines trust in the authorities.'”

The public is having mixed opinions about the trial. On Friday there were courthouse protests of opposing views trying to shout over one another. Tolokonnikova herself has had an active involvement with protesting and understood its risks. However, until this incident the repercussions haven’t been this severe. As of now, the ladies will remain in custody until January 2013, until their trial, which is scheduled to be streamed live on the Internet.

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