Russian Court Finds Punk Band Guilty of Hooliganism

Posted August 17th, 2012 at 8:00 am (UTC-5)
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A Russian judge has found guilty three women from a small punk band who were charged with hooliganism for performing a song in a church ridiculing President Vladimir Putin.

Prosecutors want the Moscow court to sentence the trio from the band Pussy Riot to three years in prison for performing a political “protest prayer” at the city's main cathedral.

The courtroom was packed, and RIA Novosti reported hundreds of people were gathered outside. Some members of the crowd are protesting the verdict, while others are chanting slogans in support of it.

The prosecution said in closing arguments last week that the performance insulted both the church and its parishioners.

The three-year sentence is less than the seven-year maximum the women could face for charges of hooliganism.

The three entered Christ the Savior Cathedral in February, where they staged an impromptu performance of a song with lyrics that call on the Virgin Mary to deliver them from Vladimir Putin, who at the time was running for the Russian presidency. The three were arrested in March and have been jailed since.

The case has prompted calls for leniency from an array of international musicians, celebrities, and ordinary Russians. Last week, President Putin said he did not favor harsh punishment for members of the band.