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Pussy Riot members sentenced to two years in prison

Three band members of the feminist punk group have been found guilty of “hoolganism motivated by religious hatred”.

Image: Misha Japaridze/AP/Press Association Images

Updated 14.59

THREE MEMBERS OF the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot have been found guilty on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, following a performance of a anti-Putin “punk prayer” in a Moscow cathedral.

Each of the women have been sentenced to two years in jail.

Jude Marina Syrova said that the women had grossly violated public order and “deeply insulted the faith of the believers with their disrespectful criminal act”.

Although hooliganism charges can carry sentences of up to 7 years in prison, prosecutors had sought three-year sentences against each of the defendants. Prosecutor Alexander Nikiforov said in a web-cast court hearing that a 3-year term would take into account the fact that two of the defendants are young mothers.

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova briefly staged a hunger strike in protest against being separated from their young children.

The three women –  Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22; Maria Alekhina, 24; and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 – have been in custody since February, in which they took over a church pulpit in Christ the Savior cathedral for less than a minute to stage an anti-Putin protest.

During the demonstration the group appealed to the Virgin Mary to “drive Putin away”.

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Before the verdict was revealed, the leader of one of the main opposition parties, Left Front’s Sergey Udaltsov, was detained outside the courthouse and removed by police.

Amnesty International has described the guilty verdict as “outrageous”, adding that it: “Show further worrying contempt for freedom of expression in Russia”.

Pussy Riot members sentenced to two years in prison
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