Members of the Russian punk band, Pussy Riot, were sentenced today to two years of prison for what the courts have deemed “hooliganism.”
According to the LA Times, the women were tried “for less than a minute of political theater in February, when they entered a Russian Orthodox cathedral dressed in colorful outfits and hoods to perform what they called a ‘punk prayer’ begging the Virgin Mary ‘to drive [Vladimir] Putin away.’”
Celebrities like Sir Paul McCartney, Madonna, and Anthony Kiedis have vocalized support for the three band members, calling for basic rights of free speech to be honored in their case.
Details of the trial were reported in July:
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, were read the indictment accusing them of a premeditated act of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. They pleaded not guilty.
The defendants, who in February were quickly removed from Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral by guards, “intended to cause heavy emotional suffering to persons who found their spiritual beginning in the Orthodox religion,” according to the indictment read by the prosecutor.
The freedoms of speech, religion, and the right to assemble are not a given in countries without a democratic government. In Russia, the basic rights and freedoms granted to us in the United States, Canada, and many other democracies have come under scrutiny as the women of Pussy Riot are sentenced for their acts against their government.
Are these women paying the price of a democratically-developing country to evolve into one that legally respects basic rights? Or should they have known better to have pushed their government and are now paying the price?
Angie Lynch is the founder and managing editor of the powerhouse women’s literary community, Smut Book Club. She is a Native Floridian without a tan, probably because she spends her days hard at work on the magical internet. For the past several years, Angie has worked way too hard at building clout as an influencer in food and margaritas as well as being a source for laughable pop culture commentary. You can read more from Angie on her blog, A Whole Lot of Nothing.
image credit Denis Bochkarev used with Creative Commons License