Russia’s “Pussy Riot” remain in jail

In February, five members of “Pussy Riot,” Russia’s radical, feminist, punk band, enteredMoscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral stood at the altar and sang “Mother of God, Blessed Virgin, drive out Putin!” For their protest art against President Vladimir Putin, three members of the band were arrested, charged with hooliganism, which can carry a seven-year long prison sentence, and have been held in jail since March. The three women, Nadya Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, say they are members of the band, but deny participating in the events at the Cathedral.  On Thursday, a judge turned down a request to release the women on bail until their trial starts. He extended their detention until June 24th. Amnesty International, which has taken up the case, explains that,

Even if the three arrested women did take part in the protest, the severity of the response of the Russian authorities – the detention on the serious criminal charge of hooliganism – would not be a justifiable response to the peaceful – if, to many, offensive – expression of their political beliefs. They would therefore be prisoners of conscience….

The broader political context surrounding the anti-Putin protests at the time – and the anti-clerical, anti-Putin content of the activists’ message (themselves unpunishable) – have clearly and unlawfully been taken into account in the charges that have been brought against them.

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Read more at Feministing

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