The world reacts to Pussy Riot’s sentencing

18.08.12

Ever since Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were sentenced to two years in prison each yesterday afternoon, it seems like the world has been talking about little else. The three women, aged between 23 and 30, two of whom are mothers, were found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, after taking part in a non-violent demonstration in a Russian Orthodox church in Moscow earlier this year.

The National Post has a reel of images revealing the extent of the worldwide protest that has erupted in support of the convicted musicians. Just yesterday, demonstrations occurred in (among other places) Moscow, Hamburg, Munich, Paris and Washington as the verdict of the trial was reached.

Meanwhile, as countless balaclava-clad protesters have voiced their support for the group alongside some more recognisable faces such as Paul MacCartney, Madonna and Bjork , Russian citizens – including its high profile pop stars – have been overwhelmingly silent on the matter.

Opinion polls within Russia show that the majority do not sympathise with the prosecuted band, and Reuters reports today that famous Russian musicians have been generally disinclined to talk about the issue for fear of jeopardising their own careers, with some even going as far as to speak out against Pussy Riot. Yelena Vaenga, a Russian ballad singer, wrote on her personal website, “I’ll personally drink to the health of the judge who will slap them in jail for a while.”

Disapproval from governments across the rest of the world has not been scarce, however, with the US State department and British Foreign Office both branding the sentences “disproportionate” in their statements on the issue, and the Estonian president Toomas Hendrick Ilves comparing the verdict to that of a “witch trial” on Twitter.

Pussy Riot themselves have, of course, been far from quiet on the matter, greeting the news of the sentencing with the release of a brand new single. You can listen to the track, entitled ‘Putin Lights Up The Fires’, here via the Guardian, who have kindly edited it to accompany a montage of images from the Pussy Riot trial and protests.

Read our summary of the events leading up to the band members’ jailing here, and to show your support, contact Amnesty International or your local Russian Embassy.