Russia jails Pussy Riot protest punks for two years | world | Hindustan Times
Today in New Delhi, India
Jul 27, 2017-Thursday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

Russia jails Pussy Riot protest punks for two years

A Moscow court today handed a two-year jail sentence to three feminist punk rockers who infuriated the Kremlin and captured world attention by ridiculing President Vladimir Putin in Russia's main church.

world Updated: Aug 18, 2012 02:42 IST

A Moscow court today handed a two-year jail sentence to three feminist punk rockers who infuriated the Kremlin and captured world attention by ridiculing President Vladimir Putin in Russia's main church.

The European Union immediately called the decision "disproportionate" while Washington urged Moscow to review the case and thousands rallied across world capitals calling on the Russian strongman to set the Pussy Riot members free.

Judge Marina Syrova said the three young protesters had displayed a "clear disrespect toward society" by staging a "Punk Prayer" performance just weeks ahead of Putin's historic but controversial March election to a third term.

"Considering the nature and degree of the danger posed by what was done, the defendants' correction is possible only through an actual punishment," she said to a few cries of "Shame!" and "This is not fair!" from the packed courtroom.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina -- 22 and 24 respectively and both mothers of young children -- and 30-year-old Yekaterina Samutsevich had exchanged glances and laughed nervously as they listened to the marathon verdict reading from inside a glass cage.

"I did not expect the verdict to be so harsh," Samutsevich's father Stanislav quietly told reporters after his daughter was led away.

But co-defence attorney Nikolai Polozov said defiantly that they three had no plans to seek clemency from Putin for what they consider a purely political act.

"They will not be asking (Putin) for a pardon," Polozov told reporters.

The trio had pulled on knitted masks and stripped down to short fluorescent dresses near the altar of Moscow's biggest cathedral on February 21 before belting out a raucous chorus calling on the Virgin Mary to "drive out Putin".

To many they represented prime examples of disenchanted youth whose support Putin could almost certainly have counted on at the start of his 12-year domination as both president and premier.

The state-appointed judge opened the hearing with dozens of passionate supporters of the band and the Russian Orthodox Church being held apart by riot police and Western diplomats jostling with reporters for a spot inside the courtroom.

Witnesses saw about 60 Pussy Riot fans -- ex-chess champion and fierce Putin critic Garry Kasparov among them --being taken away into waiting vans by police during more than three hours of hearings.