Three members of the band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years today for a one-minute demonstration. The crime? Hooliganism.
Judging by the name, you might guess that Pussy Riot is a feminist punk band. Members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, now face prison time for demonstrating against Russian leader Vladimir Putin at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral back in February. During the one-minute demonstration, the band performed their song "Virgin Mary, Get Putin Out," a song critical of the Russian Orthodox Church's relationship with Putin.
A judge found that the stunt was motivated by religious hatred. So the three members of the group, two of whom are mothers to young kids, received the two-year prison sentence — for a one-minute transgression. They already served six months before the trial. The women unsuccessfully argued that they were making a political, not religious, statement against the church and government's conservative positions on gay rights and gender equality. As for the Orthodox Church, it released a statement saying: "We call on the state authorities to show mercy to the people convicted within the framework of the law, in the hope that they will refrain from repeating blasphemous actions."
Following the extreme verdict, which has been criticized as oppressing political and artistic expression, Free Pussy Riot protests have been called in over 60 cities — from Berlin to Buenos Aires. Today is being called "Pussy Riot Global Day." See photos from some of the demonstrations now.