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Russian pro-gay punk band Pussy Riot found guilty of 'hooliganism'

Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova found guilty of 'hooliganism on the grounds of religious hatred' for singing a protest song in Moscow’s central Orthodox cathedral
Pussy Riot found guilty of 'religious hooliganism'

Three members of Russian female punk band Pussy Riot have been found guilty of 'religious hooliganism' for staging an anti-Putin protest which spoke out for gay rights.

Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were accused of 'hooliganism on the grounds of religious hatred' for singing a protest song in Moscow’s central Orthodox cathedral.

The performance of 'Virgin Mary redeem us of Putin' included a reference to the country's persecuted LGBT community with the line 'Gay pride sent to Siberia in chains' and was staged on 21 February to rally against the president ahead of the country's elections in March.

The trio have been in detention for four months now and delivering the verdict the judge said the band were 'whipping up hatred' and 'crudely undermining social order'.

Human rights groups have condemned the trial, with Amnesty International accusing it of being 'politically motivated'.

Celebrities and musicians including Madonna, the Scissor Sisters and Paul McCartney have also shown their support for Pussy Riot and called for their release.

The band originally faced a sentence of up to seven years in jail, but prosecutors are seeking a three-year prison term.

During the demonstration in Christ the Saviour Cathedral, several group members covered their faces with balaclavas.

The song called on Virgin Mary to become a feminist and banish Vladimir Putin. It also criticized the dedication and support shown to Putin by some representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Russian authorities subsequently arrested Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova on 4 March, and Ekaterina Samutsevich on 15 March, claiming they were the masked singers.

One of the women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, admitted to being a member of the larger Pussy Riot group and taking part in the protest, while the other two denied any involvement in the cathedral protest.

Watch the protest video here:

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