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International Condemnation Of Pussy Riot Verdict Pours In

Activists Abroad Rally In Support Of Pussy Rioti
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August 17, 2012
Activists in Washington, Kyiv, and Berlin gathered at the Russian embassies in their cities to show support for the members of the Pussy Riot punk group as the verdict against them was read in Moscow. The demonstrators said that they hoped to shine light on the case and on the cause of free speech in Russia.

WATCH: Activists in Washington, Kyiv, and Berlin gathered at the Russian embassies in their cities to show support for the members of the Pussy Riot punk group as the verdict against them was read in Moscow.

By RFE/RL
Condemnation has poured in from Western governments and from activists and rights groups around the world in response to a Moscow court's sentencing on August 17 of three members of the punk group Pussy Riot to two years in jail.

Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, who had staged a protest performance against President Vladimir Putin's rule in a Moscow Orthodox cathedral in February, were found guilty of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred."

For supporters and many international observers, the case has come to symbolize Russia's troubling record on freedom of expression and rule of law.

In a statement, EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton called the sentence "disproportionate" and "deeply troubling" and called on Moscow to review the jail sentences.

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said: "The United States is disappointed by the verdict, including the disproportionate sentences that were granted. While we understand the group's behavior was offense to some, we have serious concerns about the way that these young women have been treated by the Russian judicial system."

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Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE's representative on media freedom, said the sentence was part of a "dangerous tendency to curb freedom of expression."

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle expressed concern that the sentence in the case could have far-reaching effects on Russia's beleaguered civil society.

"The verdict against the music band, the punk band Pussy Riot is one thing. It is very bad for the three young women and their families, but it goes much further than this," he said. "The civil society in Russia is damaged by this and is supposed to be intimidated. And that will certainly hinder the democratic process in Russia. And we are very concerned about this as a country with close economic ties to Russia."

Even as three of its members were sentenced, other members of Pussy Riot released a new single titled, "Putin Has Lit the Flames." The British daily "The Guardian" has produced a video of the song with a montage of Pussy Riot and their supporters.

Rallies Of Support

Protesters holding placards and wearing Pussy Riot's signature balaclavas rallied against the sentencing in a reported two dozen cities outside of Russia, including Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, London, Paris, Sofia, Sydney, Riga, and Tbilisi.

Most of the protests contained about a dozen to as many as 200 people.

In central Kyiv, a bare-chested female activist from the Femen movement cut down a cross to express solidarity with the punk rockers.

In Warsaw, about 100 people demonstrated in support of Pussy Riot. The rally came during a visit by the Russian Orthodox leader, Patriach Kirill, to the Polish capital. Pussy Riot has been critical of Kirill's endorsement of Putin.

In New York, a protest in front of the Russian Embassy moved to Times Square. Protester Ama Birch told RFE/RL, "I think [this is] a real blow to democracy and a real blow to freedom of speech and that actually pains me a great deal."

"I guess it's just a sign that people value their own freedom over the rights and freedoms of others -- and that's a real blow to the whole world. It's a world problem," she said.

In front of Moscow's embassy in Washington, a protest was organized by rights watchdog Amnesty International.

"Our message today is that it is absolutely outrageous that these women were charged and that they've been tried and now they're being found guilty for a peaceful performance of a political song," the group's U.S. chief of campaigns, Michelle Ringuette, told RFE/RL.

"So we're here to make sure that the eyes of the world stay on Russia right now as it's making its decision about the sentence. We think these women need to be released immediately without prejudice."

PHOTO GALLERY: Activists rally for Pussy Riot around the world:
  • Protesters join a demonstration in support of Pussy Riot led by rights watchdog Amnesty International near the Russian Embassy in London on August 16.
  • Demonstrators chant and raise their hands to show solidarity with Pussy Riot in front of the Russian Consulate in New York on August 17.
  • Protesters wearing masks take part in an Amnesty International flash-mob demonstration in support of Pussy Riot in Edinburgh on August 14.
  • A Pussy Riot supporter shouts slogans during a gathering outside the Russian Embassy in Kyiv on August 17.
  • People wear caricature masks of Russian President Vladimir Putin and trademark Pussy Riot balaclavas during a support rally for the detained members outside the Russian Embassy in Berlin on August 17.
  • Activists wear masks in support of Pussy Riot and hold banners depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin during a protest in front of the Russian delegation to the European Union in Brussels on August 17.
  • A demonstrator takes part in a rally in support of Pussy Riot in Paris on August 17.
  • An Amnesty International-organized protest in support of Pussy Riot is held in front of the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., on August 17. 
  • An activist from the women's rights group Femen uses a chainsaw to cut down a cross erected in memory of victims of political repression under Stalin in Kyiv to protest the Pussy Riot case.
  • Supporters of Pussy Riot gather near the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona on August 17.
  • A Sydney demonstration in support of Pussy Riot on August 17
  • A protester gestures next to a sign outside the Russian Consulate building during a demonstration of support for Pussy Riot in Edinburgh, Scotland, on August 17.
  • Colorful hoods in the style of Pussy Riot were put on the monument to Aleksandr Pushkin and Natalya Goncharova in Moscow on August 17.
  • A rally in Kazan, in Russia's Tatarstan, is held in support of Pussy Riot on August 17.
  • A rally in support Pussy Riot was held near a Russian former embassy building in Tbilisi on August 16.
  • Serbian supporters rally for Pussy Riot in Belgrade on August 17.
  • An activist holds up a poster depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin during a protest rally in support of Pussy Riot on Wenceslas Square in Prague.
  • A banner reading "Freedom to Pussy Riot" is placed on the monument to Vasily Tatishchev and Georg Wilhelm de Gennin in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on August 17.

Frank Gomez, a Washington resident who joined in the protest, told RFE/RL he was unfamiliar with Russian politics before the Pussy Riot case made headlines around the world.

"The collusion between church and state is really disquieting," he said. "The more light we can shine on it, the harder it is for Russia to quash free speech."

Based on reporting by Richard Solash in Washington and Courtney Brooks in New York with additional reporting by Reuters, Interfax, dpa, and AFP
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: rick
August 17, 2012 18:47
Pussy Riot .... how to be a stupid manipulated by occidental media .

Do you want something about to fight ?

Fight for Julian Assange liberty !

this is a real war against the power

for freedom of expression
In Response

by: Der from: Ireland
August 19, 2012 10:37
Rick...Read the newspapers before you give another ill informed opinion. There are protests every hour for Julian Assange around the world. ...or maybe you think only one protest is enough at a time.
In Response

by: Anonymous
August 19, 2012 17:24
My dear irish
problem is not "how many"
but
"wich kind" or "for what" to protest

Protest for pussy riot
is not the same thing to protest for Assange

Also because ...... we can be sure only about one thing ....
those 3 girls , are guilty , with no doubt
they give the evidence of their guilty
filming all

More stupid than so ....

And what about "femen" action in Kiev ?

And which will be the next ?

Protest for waht

by: Jorjo from: Florida
August 19, 2012 18:18
Fellow musicians have also expressed their support for the Pussy Riot cause. During a concert in Brooklyn on Aug 17, Yolandi Visser of the South African Zef-group Die Antwoord wore a T-Shirt "Free Pussy Riot." Perry Farrel of the U.S. band Jane's Addiction told the audience at the same concert about the decision of the Russian court and appealed to their fans to express support and solidarity with Pussy Riot.
In Response

by: Rick
August 20, 2012 15:08
wow ! I am astonished !

easy cheap social commitment !

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