Russian Band Members Sentenced To Two Years Despite Vocal Support By Madonna
In a Russian trial that has gotten worldwide attention as representing Russia's intolerance for citizens' dissent, three members of the feminist Russian band, Pussy Riot — Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, and Maria Alekhina, 24 — have been convicted on charges of hooliganism for an anti-Putin impromptu concert that was performed in March in Moscow's main cathedral.
The band, which is known for giving impromptu performances with politically loaded lyrics, staged a "guerrilla performance," singing a "punk prayer," in the Orthodox church, in which they plead with the Virgin Mary to save them and all of Russia from president Vladimir Putin, who was running for re-election at the time for his third term as president, reports USA Today.
Judge Marina Syrova's verdict declared that the three "committed hooliganism driven by religious hatred." Though the charge carries up to a seven-year imprisonment sentence, the prosecution was seeking three, and even Putin, at one time, had reportedly suggested that the band members shouldn't be judged too harshly, but then did nothing to intervene in the process. A Kremlin spokesperson refused to comment on the sentence after it was handed down.
"Under no circumstances will the girls ask for a pardon [from Putin]," said the band members' lawyer, Mark Feygin. "They will not beg and humiliate themselves before such a bastard."
The Pussy Riot case has garnered support across North America and Europe, and even President Barack Obama's spokesperson Josh Earnest said that Obama has "serious concerns" about the women's sentence.
Musicians Paul McCartney and Madonna have publically shown their support for Pussy Riot. Early last week, when Madonna performed the Moscow leg of her MDNA tour at the Olimpsky Stadium, she removed her shirt to reveal the words "Pussy Riot" written on her back in support of the band. She also put a black balaclava over her head, an homage to the band's trademark hoods they wear during their performances — a symbol of rebellion against the standard female image. "Tonight, and every night, I like to live," she said, showing her back to the audience.
Watch Madonna's video from her tour here:
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