Three members of Pussy Riot -- a Russian punk band and feminist collective that mocked Russian president Vladamir Putin during a "punk prayer" in a Moscow cathedral--have been found guilty of hooliganism and sentenced to two years in jail
Judge Marina Syrova announced the verdict from a district court in central Moscow, about two miles from the Christ the Saviour Cathedral where the guerrilla group performed its "flash" stunt.
The band members--Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30--were arrested on March 3, several weeks after the performance, and charged with "hooliganism." They've been in jail ever since.
Their trial drew enormous international interest, sparking catcalls from international free-speech advocates and spawning dozens of protests--including some that were reported on Twitter during the verdict and sentencing that involved an impromptu musical concert and some protests in public areas in Moscow and London.
Madonna, Bjork, Paul McCartney and Courtney Love were among a long list of musicians to come out in support of Pussy Riot, calling on the Russian government to set the band members free. Last week in Berlin, more than 400 people joined a protest led by electro-singer Peaches.
In one of the most extravagant displays," the Associated Press said, "Reykjavik Mayor Jon Gnarr rode through the streets of the Icelandic capital in a Gay Pride parade ... dressed like a band member--wearing a bright pink dress and matching balaclava--while lip-synching to one of Pussy Riot's songs."
What started as "a punk-infused political prank," London's Independent said, "has rapidly snowballed into one of the most notorious court cases in post-Soviet Russian history."
Five members of the group, which formed in 2011, were arrested in January after a video of a Putin-baiting performance in Moscow's Red Square circulated online. They were detained for several hours by police, fined and released, NPR said.
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