Punk Prayer Leads to Two Years in Russian Prison

Although I rarely write about Russian punk bands on this blog, we cannot ignore the news about three members of the band Pussy Riot being sentenced to two years in prison in Russia. Below is a video taken during their actions that are at issue. On February 21, they staged a protest at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, where they gave their “Punk Prayer” of “Mother Mary, please drive Putin away.”

Band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina appeared in their usual tights and face-covering balaclavas at the sacred place to protest President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox church’s close ties to the leader. The three women, who have already been behind bars for six months, were sentenced today to “two years deprivation of liberty in a penal colony” after they were found guilty of the crime of hooliganism.

As the feminist punk rockers were being taken from the courtroom, Tolokonnikova said, “We are happy because we brought the revolution closer.” A number of prominent people have voiced support for the women, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Madonna, Bjork, Sting, chess champion Gary Kasparov, and Paul McCartney. Amnesty International plans to send a truckload of colorful balaclavas to Putin in protest, while there is a “Free Pussy Riot” webpage too. Others have argued that the issue is more complicated and that most Russians do not support the band. As people around the world protest, though, only time will reveal whether the band’s case has lasting impact.

What do you think of the sentence for the band members? Leave your two cents in the comments. If you are unfamiliar with the band, check out this interview with band members a few days before they were arrested.

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