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Jail for Pussy Riot sparks protests in Germany

The Local · 17 Aug 2012, 17:49

Published: 17 Aug 2012 17:49 GMT+02:00

The German government, the EU and the USA all condemned the verdict.

Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22 and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, were sentenced on Friday to two years in prison for "hooliganism motivated by religious hate."

The demonstrators, including rally co-organiser Sergey Medvedev, stayed at the embassy for much of the afternoon, awaiting the full verdict, which was read out by Russian judge Marina Syrowa over a period of two and a half hours.

"We've already managed to achieve something with these protests from politicians, artists and supporters all over the world," Medvedev told The Local. He was referring to the decision of the Russian prosecutors to back down from their initial calls for the women to be jailed for seven years.

The trio have been held in prison since March after being arrested for carrying out an anti-Putin protest stunt in a Moscow cathedral, singing a punk song calling for the Virgin Mary to save Russia from him.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International recently recognised the three women as political prisoners.

"In my eyes, the harsh sentence has no relation to the music group's protest action," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told Saturday's edition of the Tagesspiegel.

He said he was "concerned about the effects of the sentence against the three musicians for the development and freedom of Russian civil society as a whole."

Berlin's 200 brightly-clad, balaclava-wearing protesters were joined at the Russian embassy by government human rights ombudsman Markus Löning and head of the Green parliamentary party Renate Künast along with several members of the Left party - all of whom had damning words for the Russian justice system.

Löning described the sentence as "devastating," saying it "underlines the horrific current state of Russian justice," whereas Künast said it showed that Russia was "no democratic country."

"It's absurd that people should be arrested for art." Inaz, a protestor in Berlin told The Local on Friday afternoon. "Pussy Riot's whole artistic action has obviously really shaken Putin."

Once the sentence of two years had been announced, several demonstrators were forcibly removed by police after chaining themselves to the embassy gates, while others danced, sang and even stripped off in protest.

"Russia is a very undemocratic country," Berlin protestor Martha G. told The Local. "If we were there now, we'd all be arrested just for protesting outside an embassy."

Story continues below…

"I lived in the GDR, so this has horrible associations for me," she added. "Back then people were arrested for no reason too."

In Moscow around 60 Pussy Riot supporters, including former chess world champion Garry Kasparov and opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov were arrested outside the court building.

The Local/DPA/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

18:55 August 17, 2012 by Emason
olright! what about Julian Assange he also did the same thing any one went out to support him? No just because he messed with west and you support Pussy Riot because they messed with Putin, Russia? huh!!

19:08 August 17, 2012 by cheeba
I'm not sure I see what is so disproportionate about this conviction and sentence, they admit they did it, they invaded a church and committed blasphemy, if they did this in a Mosque in any of the Gulf States their heads would have been chopped off a year ago and the religious police probably would have driven up to do the deed in German built armored personnel carriers.
19:50 August 17, 2012 by iseedaftpeople

there's more to it. The Pussy Riot case gives feminists yet another chance to point fingers and celebrate womanly victimhood.

Julian Assange, well, he has been charged with (mind you, not even convicted of!!) rape, so as far as the feminist leaning mass media and society in general are concerned, he can burn in hell and/or rot in a prison cell (either in Sweden or eventually in the U.S.).
21:18 August 17, 2012 by IchBinKönig
More IDIOCY from theLocal.de peanut gallery

These girls deserve all the international support they receive and more. They spoke their OWN minds, not the words and communications of others.

'if they did this in a Mosque in any of the Gulf States their heads would have been chopped off'

SO you're pro putin and you hold others up to the standards of Islamic States? nice. you're a real class individual.
22:21 August 17, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Shouldn't some German pop stars also be locked up for the utter trash they produce?
00:21 August 18, 2012 by Leo Strauss
pU.S.sy riot
13:31 August 18, 2012 by Micheál Mathäß
I cannot really understand Ich bin koenig's argument. Let us not speak or compare what would happen in the Gulf States, what would happen in Berlin? For example Neo-Nazis invaded a synagog in Berlin and desecrated its Holiness and peace, there would be outrage by Fr Dr. Merkel and Co. But no, not when it is an attack on a Christian church. This is so sad!

No one and no cause should be allowed to attack and disrupt a place of worship, be it Christian, Jewish, Muslim or any other. And likewise the worshipers should be able to attend their church without the angst or fear of protest. Two years may and perhaps is a little hard, but on the other hand, these women, laughed and sneered at both the Court and the Church - What else should happen. The invasion of religious sanctuary must not be tolerated, regardless of the politics of the protestors/invaders. I do feel a measure of sympathy for the woman jailed, but it is there own radical actions which are at fault and not the Court´s. Michael Neustadt a.d.Weinstr. PS. A lovely sunny fun weekend to all :-)
16:14 August 18, 2012 by cheeba
Well said #7,

I will also add calling an opponent of Pussy Riot's tactics pro Putin is over the top.
18:44 August 18, 2012 by bwjijsdtd
Pussy Riot huh ... sounds like two women fighting to me ....
19:35 August 18, 2012 by IchBinKönig
@ #7

Your argument is completely idiotic and moot. They were not Neo-Nazi's, they were not there to hate or protest religion.

A better argument would be OWS desecrating Trinity Church in lower Manhattan. OWS jumped the fence and cut the locks and occupied Trinity Church. So lets throw them in Jail for blasphemy and throw away the key! Why? Just imagine what they would do in the Middle East! See! if they do it there, it is justified. Not to mention civilized!


Lets ask the Church how it feels about Pussy Riot going to jail for Blasphemy. But That does not matter does it? No. Because Pussy Riot is not in jail for Blasphemy against the church. Pussy Riot is in jail because of Blasphemy against Putin.

20:32 August 18, 2012 by cheeba

The Church has in fact condemned them for Blasphemy.

Perhaps if these women had conducted their "demonstration" in front of the Church they might have gotten off with a charge of disorderly conduct and paid a small fine.

What they chose instead to do is storm the Sacred Altar of the most important Cathedral in Russia.

Both the Church and Putin have asked the court to show compassion, don't be suprised if the sentence is ultimately reduced.

I think the court saw a need here to send a message to these women, who are totally unrepentant, about standards of Religious freedom and respect for the Sacred beliefs of others.
06:21 August 19, 2012 by Ludwig von America
The non-Russian protesters against the sentence are mostly ignorant hypocrites who have nothing else to do than meddle in another country's affairs. Russian protesters are within their rights, but constitute a tiny fraction of the population. Dozens may show up at a protest, but millions are at home either in support of the sentence or not even paying attention to the matter.

Then, there are the malicious ones...those who wish to do harm to Russia. I'm talking about the spokespeople for the U.S and EU who have nothing to talk about, considering their atrocities against humanity in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now with Syria and Iran. Their sanctions on these latter two countries punish the average citizens, including women and children.

I'd like to create an island nation based on complete anarchy and invite all these protesters to live there. There, everyone could do and say whatever they damn well please without worrying about an "oppressive" government bothering them. No respect for religion, no laws, no respect for the nation's leaders...who needs governmet, laws and morals anyway?
18:02 August 19, 2012 by danceswithgoats
Absolutely terrible tactics on the part of Pussy Riot. By doing this in a church they alienated a large part of the population. Putin was more than willing to step in and crush them; makes his job easier. These sort of protests make people think they voted for the right man when Putin crushes this form of dissent. Better to have a large group of old women, WWII veterans in the front, march on a government building and get beaten by the police. That exposes the regime for what it is. Pussy Riot is going to pay the price for stupidity.
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