Three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot have been found guilty for hooliganism after staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral. They received two-year prison sentences.
During the sentencing, where they were convicted for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, Judge Marina Syrova said the band had "crudely undermined social order" and called the act "blasphemous."
The band was largely unknown until February, when members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested after charging into a church to stage an impromptu flash mob-style performance of their song "Punk Prayer." The song asks the Virgin Mary to deliver Russia from Putin, who won a third term as president in the March election.
After their arrest, the group became an international cause celebre, drawing support from masses of people around the globe, including celebrities like Sting, Madonna and Paul McCartney. Supporters say the case shows the intolerance for dissent in Putin's Russia.
Rallies in support of the band are planned around the world, including Canada, where it has been reported that one of the band members, Tolokonnikova, has permanent resident status.
Speaking through her lawyer on Twitter, Tolokonnikova said, "Politically, I am furious," and "Our imprisonment serves as a clear and unambiguous sign that freedom is being taken away from the entire country."
Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal rallies in support of the band are scheduled for 12, 1 and 6 p.m. ET, respectively.
Will you be attending the Pussy Riot rallies? Let us know in the comment section.
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on Aug 17, 2012