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What will a guilty sentence look like for Pussy Riot, and what’s so important about them, anyway?

Aug 15, 2012

c0e12 45373 lead What will a guilty sentence look like for Pussy Riot, and what’s so important about them, anyway?  photo

Credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Back in February, the European press was calling Pussy Riot, an all-female Russian punk band, “the latest symbol of young Russian discontent.” If that’s the case, then the anti-Putin youth of Russia now consider themselves on trial. Pussy Riot functions as a collective, with a rotating cast of characters who wear brightly colored balaclavas to conceal their specific identities. No longer anonymous, three members of the band now await sentencing in Moscow on charges of “hooliganism,” with a verdict due Friday. The group entered the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on February 21 and took over the altar to perform a version of their song, “Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Expel Putin!” While at first they faced up to seven years in prison, insiders now say that the maximum sentence will be three years, or, at minimum, a fine. Since their arrest, Pussy Riot has become a cause célèbre, with artists like Franz Ferdinand, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Madonna demanding the band members’ freedom. Amnesty International quickly called them prisoners of conscience, and Miriam Elder, who covered the trial for The Guardian, called it “worse than the Soviet Era,” with the defense denied witnesses and the defendants being refused food, water, and sleep. Band member Nadezhda Toloknnikova issued a closing statement that the “entire state system of the Russian Federation” is on trial.

WEIGH IN:

So what will it mean if they only get a slap on the wrist? If they receive the full sentence? How dire is the need to protect freedom of speech in Russia?

 What will a guilty sentence look like for Pussy Riot, and what’s so important about them, anyway?  photo

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