How big a dickhead is President Vladimir Putin?
Well, we’ll soon find out, as three members of Feminist Punk Rockers, Pussy Riot went on trial today, charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.”
Their crime? Performing an anti-Putin, anti-religious song at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, Moscow, in February this year.
It was a moment of shock political theater, as the band stormed the altar while shouting “Mother of God, Blessed Virgin, drive out Putin!”
Now, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, and Maria Alekhina, 24, face up to 7 years in jail for their actions.
These women have been detained since March, without access to their families or possibility of parole. Russian opinion is divided over the arrests, but there have been major protests across Moscow in support of Pussy Riot.
However, it is feared Pussy Riot won’t get a fair trial, as Putin is the real force behind the prosecutions. Nikolai Polozov, one of Pussy Riot’s defence lawyers, told the Daily Telegraph:
“They went on to Putin’s sacred ground and he’s a vengeful person. I’m sure he gave the signal for this prosecution.”
Mr Polozov said he expected a guilty verdict but could not predict the sentence. “It could be two months, it could be seven years,” he said.
“If Putin is under pressure, say on Syria, or something else happens, he might use the girls as a distraction and earn some political capital by putting them away. And then they’ll be sewing felt boots, like Khodorkovsky, in a prison colony.”
Amnesty International are currently organizing a campaign to Free Pussy Riot:
Today marks the start of Nadezhda, Maria and Ekaterina’s trial. It’s been a long time coming: they’ve been held in Moscow police cells since their arrest in February, denied access to their families – including their young children.
Last week, the Moscow City Court ruled to extend their detention by another six months on the grounds that the women committed a serious crime, and may abscond if granted bail.
Bonus clips of Pussy Riot’s “shock” performance plus news report, after the jump…