17 August 2012, 21:58

Pussies’ verdict stirs controversy

Pussies’ verdict stirs controversy

Aggravated hooliganism is punishable with up to 7 years in jail. The prosecution requested 3 years. The court took into account the facts that none of the three Pussy Riot punk singers had a criminal record and two of them have children, and gave them only two years of low security imprisonment.

The sentencing started at 3 p.m. Hours in advance, rival crowds gathered around, separated by a strong police cordon.

Mrs Irina Petrovich was in the anti-Pussy picket:

"I want justice to prevail. I’d be happy to see these girls repenting. What they did is bad, because it amounts to blasphemy. It offended my feelings as an Orthodox Christian. I believe the Orthodox cathedrals and churches must be protected against action of this kind."

The defendants – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich – pleaded not guilty to their charges, arguing that the mock prayer they performed in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in February was a political protest and was not intended to offend the worshipers.

Mr Viktor Zakharov is on the pro-Pussy side:

"I totally disagree with the artistic aspect of what the girls did. They are guilty of petty hooliganism. But keeping them for six months in pretrial detention alone is outrageous."

Mr Nikolai Polozov is a member of the Pussies’ defence team:

"If the girls are found guilty, we will lodge and appeal. They are not felons and must be cleared."

He admitted, however, that the girls had offended religious sensitivities, which carries a thousand-rouble fine.

The court ruled otherwise and handed down custodial sentences. According to the presiding judge, the defendants are guilty of aggravated hooliganism aimed at undermining the state and stirring religious hatred.

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