Pussy Riot hooliganism verdict due in Russia
Published: 17th Aug 2012 07:07:01
A verdict in the trial of three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot is due shortly.
The three women are charged with hooliganism after performing a protest song in Moscow's Christ the Saviour cathedral in February.
They say their "punk prayer" was a political act in protest against the Russian Orthodox Church's support of President Vladimir Putin.
Prosecutors have asked for them to be given three years in prison.
Supporters of the women are planning to hold protests outside Russian embassies around the world as the verdict, scheduled for 15:00 local time (11:00 GMT) is announced.
Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, along with other members of their band, staged a flashmob-style performance of their song close to the altar in the cathedral on 21 February.
Their obscenity-laced song implored the Virgin Mary to "throw Putin out".
Their act enraged the Orthodox Church, with its leader Patriarch Kirill, saying the act amounted to blasphemy.
Patriarch Kirill is closely identified with the Kremlin, having backed Mr Putin's re-election as president this year.
On the eve of the verdict, Ms Tolokonnikova said she was "not bitter about being in jail".
But, speaking through her lawyer on Twitter, she said: "Politically, I am furious."
"Our imprisonment serves as a clear and unambiguous sign that freedom is being taken away from the entire country."
Her husband, Pyotr Verzilov, told the BBC he believed the court would not deliver an impartial verdict.
"No-one in Russia, no-one outside the world has any doubt that it's Putin personally who will be choosing the sentence for the three members of Pussy Riot," he said.
"Everyone understands that in Russia, it's Putin who gets the decision in the court cases, not the judge, not anyone else."
But Mr Verzilov said he did not know which direction Mr Putin would take, and what "signal" he would like to give.
"Either he will signal that he has the ability to listen to public outcry both in Russia and the rest of the world, or that he sees Russia moving not even towards China but towards North Korea."
Russian public opinion on the case is divided, with many people saying the women have been treated too harshly and that the case is part of attempts to clamp down on opposition after mass anti-Putin protests earlier this year.
The women have attracted high-profile support from other artists including Paul McCartney and Madonna, who called for their release while she was on tour in Russia earlier this month. Amnesty International considers them prisoners of conscience.
On Thursday, former president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev told the BBC's Russian Service the case should never have gone to trial, calling it "a completely pointless undertaking".
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Pussy Riot hooliganism verdict due in Russia [Online] (Updated 17th Aug 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1446727/Pussy-Riot-hooliganism-verdict-due-in-Russia [Accessed 20th Aug 2014]
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