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Russia's Pussy Riot Found Guilty, Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

Band Releases Single, "Putin Lights Up the Fires"

August 17, 2012  |  10:14am
Russia's Pussy Riot Found Guilty, Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

Update: Pussy Riot released a new single called “Putin Lights Up the Fires” today after three of its members were sentenced to two years in jail. The song premiered through The Guardian, which edited together footage of the original protest with photos of their supporters. You can watch the video below.

Update: The band has been sentenced to two years in prison for its guilty verdict, according to The Guardian. It was reported that the members of the band laughed at their sentencing.

After an onslaught of public outcry throughout the summer, the three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot’s verdict has been announced. The Guardian announced this morning that the band was found guilty of their charges of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” after a five-month case in Moscow. The band faced charges after performing a song critical of president Vladimir Putin in February inside Christ Savior Cathedral, one of Moscow’s most respected churches.

“It was a small act but maybe not a very elegant act but they consider that it is the country which is sick,” the trial’s judge said. “For them, individuals are not important, they consider that education in Russia is still in the Soviet mould. And that there is still cruelty in the country and that prison is a miniature of Russia itself.”

Supporters of the band outside the London embassy shouted “shame” and “Putin scum” at the announcement of the verdict.

Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Tekaterina Samutsevic have been imprisoned since March after a public stunt in Moscow’s main cathedral that called for a removal of President Putin, directly after he was re-elected for a third term. The punk band was charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, as prosecutors have been calling for a three-year sentence. The story has drawn Russia’s stance on free speech into the public eye.

The band has received support from artists across the globe including Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, Kathleen Hanna, Bjork, Johnny Marr, Pete Townshend and Beastie Boys. Yesterday, McCartney wrote to the band, stating:

“I hope you can stay strong and believe that I and many others like me who believe in free speech will do everything in our power to support you and the idea of artistic freedom.”

You can also read Paste Editor-in-Chief Josh Jackson’s take on Pussy Riot and Russia’s Awkward Version of Democracy here.

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