International Protests Over Pussy Riot Detention

The Moscow City Court ruled last week that three members of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot will spend another six months in detention awaiting trial.

This follows their having been detained for five months prior to this week’s court hearing on charges of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility”. Band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina all pleaded not guilty to the charges, after their arrest for an political performance staged in Moscow’s St Basil’s Cathedral, in which they prayed to a statue of the Virgin Mary to remove Vladimir Putin from power.



Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, called the performance “blasphemous” and an “attack” on both the Church itself and on Russia’s (Christian) national identity. In light of this, thousands of members of the Russian Orthodox Church and its supporters have rallied in prayer as a form of protest against the group.



Meanwhile, Amnesty International has called for the release of Tolokonnikova, Samutsevich and Alyokhina, two of whom have young children, stating that the charges are not a “justifiable response to the peaceful – if, to many, offensive – expression of their political beliefs.” Members of the public and the international arts community continue to express their support for Pussy Riot. The artist Pyotr Paviensky made news over the weekend by sewing his mouth shut and parading in the Kazansky Cathedral in protest against what is widely regarded as the censorship of Pussy Riot.