NEWS
Russian feminist punk group Pussy Riot face trial for cathedral protest
07 Mar 2012
BY TENA PRELEC

Pussy RiotTena Prelec reports from the hooliganism trial of Russian feminist punk group Pussy Riot

Members of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot have been arrested in Moscow on the eve of the country’s presidential elections on charges of hooliganism. The Moscow court in charge decided to keep them imprisoned until 24 April, when they will be tried facing a sentence of up to 7 years. Two band members, both mothers, have announced a hunger strike until they are reunited with their children.

Pussy Riot is one of the most unusual  of all the opposition groups that have arisen in Moscow over the past few months. They perform political songs dressed in colourful mini-skirts and balaclavas. Their faces are covered so anyone can potentially join in. They were arrested after performing an anti-Putin punk prayer in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour cathedral.

The trial was supposed to take place on 5 March, the same day when mass demonstrations were scheduled to happen in Moscow. Journalists gathered at the Taganka court at 3pm, but were kept waiting for many hours in vain. “The strategy seems to be to wait for all of us to go to the protests, and hold the trial without a consistent presence of the press,” one said.

Waiting for the trial to start, the band members’ lawyer Nikolai Polozov told Index: “I do not understand why the trial is being postponed for such a long time. I got notice it was delayed by one, then two and then three hours, but now the inquirer does not even pick up my phone calls. If supporting documents are not brought in within 48 hours of the arrests, which is within a couple of hours, they will be forced to release them. But they could always determine the moment of the arrest to a later hour or find another legal caveat to keep them in”.

The supporting documents were eventually brought in. Two more band members were arrested in the evening hours of the same day.

Many Russians are showing support for the group through social media and real life actions. On 8 March, International Women’s Day, a number of flash mobs in support of the group are planned to take place all over Moscow. Recently re-elected president Vladimir Putin has stated he disapproves of the womens’ actions in the cathedral.

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