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Russian Court Sentences Pussy Riot Rockers to 2 Years in Prison 

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Old 08-17-2012, 12:38 PM
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Russian Court Sentences Pussy Riot Rockers to 2 Years in Prison

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MOSCOW -- A Russian judge on Friday found three members of a feminist punk band guilty of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" and sentenced them each to two years in prison after they staged an anti-Kremlin protest in a church.
Supporters of the members of the band Pussy Riot, who stormed the altar of Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral in February wearing bright ski masks, tights and short skirts to hold a "punk prayer" for Russia to get rid of President Vladimir Putin, have portrayed the case as a test of the tolerance of dissent in today’s Russia.
Judge Marina Syrova read the women's sentence late Friday afternoon.

Putin's opponents portrayed the trial as part of a wider crackdown by the former KGB spy to crush their protest movement. Pop stars led by Madonna -- who performed in Moscow with "PUSSY RIOT" painted on her back -- have campaigned for the women's release. Washington says the case is politically motivated.

"Our imprisonment is a clear and distinct sign that the whole country's freedom is being taken away," Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, said in a letter written in jail and posted on the Internet by defense lawyer Mark Feigin.

In a sign of the tension over the trial in a small Moscow courtroom, Judge Syrova was assigned bodyguards on Thursday following what authorities said were threats.
The trial divided Russia's Orthodox Christians, with many backing the authorities' demands for severe punishment, but others saying the women should be granted clemency.
Putin, who returned to the presidency this year, had said the women's punishment should not be too harsh.
Police blocked off the street outside the brick courthouse with metal barriers and at least seven police buses stood by.
Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, say their protest on Feb. 21 was intended to highlight the close ties between the Russian Orthodox Church and state, and not to offend believers.

Pussy Riot supporters protest at Russian cathedral as global campaign heats up
Their feminist punk collective has about 10 members who appear in public in ski masks for anonymous impromptu performances they describe as a form of protest art.
The three members have been held in jail since shortly after the appearance in the cathedral, awaiting the trial, which saw a parade of state witnesses say they were traumatized by the church performance, which prosecutors called an abuse of God.

Ahead of the verdict, their lawyers said the outcome will be dictated by the Kremlin. Putin's supporters denied that and portrayed the women as blasphemers and self-publicists who should be punished for committing a premeditated outrage against the Church.
"It was a conscious deed. They understood quite clearly where they were going and why," said Vladimir Burmatov, who represents Putin's United Russia party in parliament.

Pussy Riot was formed last year in anger at Putin's decision to return to the presidency in an election after four years as premier. The band's public performances were popular on the Internet, but it is the trial that has brought them global fame.

The charges against them raised concern abroad about freedom of speech in Russia two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Protests in support of the group were planned on Friday in cities from Sydney to Paris, and New York to London. A long list of international celebrities have backed their cause.
The opposition says Putin saw the trial initially as a chance to strengthen his relationship with the influential Russian Orthodox Church -- about 70 percent of Russians say they follow the faith -- but his plans backfired.

Although believers were united in outrage that the band thrashed out a "punk prayer" deriding Putin in a place they consider sacrosanct, many were upset by the Church hierarchy's lack of forgiveness and calls for "divine retribution."
Many Russians, including some of the Orthodox faithful, are concerned about ties between church and state under Patriarch Kirill, who has praised Putin's rule as a "miracle of God."
From March 2012: Anti-Putin activists pay high price, but refuse to back down
Aware that a long sentence could reinforce the picture Pussy Riot have painted of him as intolerant and repressive, Putin told reporters this month that although the women had done "nothing good," they should not be judged too harshly.
But the damage to Putin's image abroad has already been done, and divisions between his supporters and opponents have widened, risking polarizing society even more than when protests took off against his 12-year-rule during the winter.

Even before Friday's court decision, many Russians said the Pussy Riot three had served enough time in jail awaiting their sentence, and should have been released. However, Sergei Markov, a pro-Putin political analyst, said that would have upset nationalists.
In moves seen by the opposition as a crackdown, parliament has recently rushed through laws increasing fines for protesters, tightening controls on the Internet -- which is used to arrange protests -- and imposing stricter rules on defamation.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2...in-prison?lite

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Old 08-18-2012, 12:15 AM
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Re: Russian Court Sentences Pussy Riot Rockers to 2 Years in Prison

Putin is a dangerous man, how he has stayed under the Radar this long I don't know.

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Old 08-18-2012, 12:21 AM
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Re: Russian Court Sentences Pussy Riot Rockers to 2 Years in Prison

I signed a petition to keep them out of jail ...this is absolutely sickening.

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Old 08-18-2012, 01:32 AM
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Re: Russian Court Sentences Pussy Riot Rockers to 2 Years in Prison

More power to the 3 girls -- amazing how effective their protesting has been. "The whole world is watching."

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Old 08-18-2012, 11:13 AM
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Re: Russian Court Sentences Pussy Riot Rockers to 2 Years in Prison

Bet judge is paid by the dictator himself

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Old 08-18-2012, 05:13 PM
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Re: Russian Court Sentences Pussy Riot Rockers to 2 Years in Prison

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Bet judge is paid by the dictator himself
Damn right..... That's exactly what he is too, found a way around term limits and now he's crushing any kind of opposition.

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Old 08-18-2012, 05:20 PM
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Re: Russian Court Sentences Pussy Riot Rockers to 2 Years in Prison

Blahh, they'll probably get out of jail sooner. Putin is just pissing people from the EU waaay off and that's some serious business. I think they will get another trial because the previous one wasn't done according to Russia's international promises. I doubt he'll want to anger the rest of Europe due to his ego.

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Old 08-18-2012, 06:23 PM
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Re: Russian Court Sentences Pussy Riot Rockers to 2 Years in Prison

It will be interesting to see whether this decison has the intended effect of quashing dissent or whether it encourages anti-Putin demonstrations.

The case itself was a farce and the sentence unduly harsh - whether that constitues a case for appeal in Russian law, like it does in England, i'm not sure.

From what i've been reading, the actions of Pussy Riot weren't even enough to make out the offence of 'hooliganism'. An open letter was written by about 200 prominent Russian lawyers stating that they were 'probably guilty of something, just not a crime'. Probably only guilty of outrageing the morals of the perennially oversensitive Church

Apparently it's commonplace for Russian political dissidents to be charged with the offence of 'hooliganism'.

Here's an article I found quite interesting that gave a good legal insight on the case:
Quote:
On Aug. 17, Pussy Riot members Natalia Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich were sentenced to 2 years in prison for “hooliganism”, a violation of Article 213 of the Russian penal code. In her decision, the judge found that the Pussy Riot girls “committed hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” in the Christ the Savior Cathedral; that their action was carefully premeditated, as evidenced by the fact that they hid their faces with masks, and the fact that they notified bloggers about the performance in advance; and that the swear words uttered in the church by the defendants were blasphemous.

In her ruling the judge, as Russian judges tend to do, followed the position taken by the prosecution, and amplified by the complaining parties (members of the church): “prosecutors requested three-year sentences for each of the defendants. Viewing the punk prayer as both premeditated and deeply offensive to Orthodoxy, he argued that it was necessary for the girls to spend 'real time' behind bars.” “Both attorneys for the aggrieved parties focused acutely on the damage done to religious sanctity by virtue of the prayer. Attorney Larisa Pavlova viewed the girls’ fist-pumping during the performance as blatantly insulting to believers.”

There was, of course, a niggling little problem: none of that met the elements of the crime of “hooliganism” as defined in Article 213. As a group of nearly 200 prominent Russian lawyers and jurists had pointed out in an open letter several months earlier, the defendants were likely guilty of something, just not of a crime: “According to generally recognized legal principles no one can be held liable for an action not written in the law as an offense. . . . . We are obliged to inform the public of our belief that the actions of [the Pussy Riot defendants] is not a crime - neither 'hooliganism' nor anything else. Subjecting the women to criminal liability is contrary to Russian law and is a clear legal error.

“The elements of criminally punishable 'hooliganism' may be found in Article 213 of the Criminal Code. To be guilty of 'hooliganism', one must encroach on the public safety and public order. This follows from the definition of 'hooliganism' as 'a gross violation of public order, expressing a clear disrespect for society,' and confirmed by the fact that the article 'hooliganism' is in the chapter 'Crimes against public security' in the 'Crimes against public security and public order' section of the Criminal Code.*

“The Criminal Code contains no such crime as 'insulting religious feelings,'” which played such a prominent role in the findings of the court, and in the complaint by the prosecutor. Never mind that it's not in the law they are charged with violating, however. It is to be found elsewhere in the Russian legal system: the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation. This code, which is intended for minor administrative offenses (similar to a traffic ticket), does contain paragraph 2 of Article 5-26 providing administrative liability for “Insulting Religious Feelings of Citizens or Desecration of Articles, Marks and Emblems Relating to the World Outlook Symbols Thereof'”. In all likelihood, the girls were guilty of that violation, according to the jurists. The penalty provided for such a transgression is a modest administrative fine, not jail time.

“Hooliganism” is a charge used frequently against political dissidents and others that the government is unhappy with. As this case points out, it suffices to charge the crime and find the defendants guilty of . . . well . . . something, to get them convicted. That they did not do what the criminal statute prohibits is irrelevant.

With their tongues apparently firmly in their cheeks, the jurists noted the claimed integrity and independence of the Russian court system:

“Expression of our opinions must not be regarded as a desire to influence the court. In accordance with Paragraph 1 of Article 120 of the Constitution of Russia, judges are independent and subject only to the Russian Constitution and to federal law. The Court makes decisions without regard to widespread opinion and public debate.”

The final paragraph of the jurists' open letter was both prophetic and chilling:

“[Conviction of the defendants] of 'hooliganism' on the grounds that they violated religious traditions, rules and regulations constitutes a failure of the principle of separation of religious associations from the state, which is one of the foundations of the constitutional order of Russia. The apparent disregard for the Constitution when considering a particular criminal case leads to the destruction of Russia as a country of law.”
http://www.examiner.com/article/puss...e-wrong-charge

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