The Aftermath of the Pussy Riot Verdict

BlogHer Original Post

There’s more bad news for Pussy Riot.

Days after three members of the Russian female punk band were sentenced to two years in prison, the Russian police are looking for two more members of the group who apparently escaped. Last Friday three of the band’s members were convicted of “hooliganism” fueled by religious hatred for performing a “punk prayer” in a Moscow cathedral in February. During their performance the group did something unthinkable: they criticized Russian president Vladimir Putin and his close ties to the conservative Orthodox Church. The young women who were convicted were Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30.

Even before the verdict, the case drew international outrage from human rights groups like Amnesty International and celebrities ranging from Paul McCartney to Madonna. The young women's chilling trial also attracted worldwide media attention, giving a rare glimpse of Russia’s judicial system.

The Wall Street Journal, for instance, had this terrifying account from the trial:

Pussy Riot's prosecutors went beyond the usual hallmarks of an unfair trial to embrace an inquisitorial style of justice. Anti-Pussy Riot protestors shouted "witches!" during the reading of the verdict. Reporting from inside the courtroom, journalist Julia Ioffe recounted scenes better suited to the satires of Bulgakov than a 21st-century court: At one point, the prosecutor asked a witness if he thought the defendants could have been possessed during their performance. The question was struck because the witness was "not a medical expert.

The verdict inspired a flurry of tweets from around the world under the hashtag #PussyRiot:

There have also been global protests against the sentence, from London to Toronto.

Yet Joshua Foust at The Atlantic wonders if the emphasis on the band’s music and feminism isn’t detracting from a more serious political issue:

Feminist punk music and art are great, but they are not the solutions to this particular problem, and pretending that they are takes attention away from more worthwhile efforts. Pussy Riot might have made punk music, but they got themselves imprisoned for an act of political dissent. Their unjust imprisonment doesn't necessarily make anything done in their name -- or, particularly, in the name of their punk music -- a step forward for Russian political rights.

Will the international outcry win the young women their freedom? It’s hard to say. But although they might be in prison, the all-female band is continuing to speak out. On Friday members of Pussy Riot released another anti-Putin song. It's called “Putin Is Lighting the Fires of Revolution.”

protests

Credit Image: © Christopher Drost/SHIFT digital/ZUMAPress.com/

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