Pussy Riot Facing Hard Time in Moscow (Video Blasphemy)

Russian punk rock riot grrrls would rather dissent than repent.

pussy riot members in defendants' cell in moscow courtroom hooliganism charges

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L) and Maria Alyokhina, members of female punk band Pussy Riot, look out from the defendants’ cell in a courtroom in Moscow, July 30, 2012. (Photo: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

Allan MacDonell is TakePart’s News + Opinion editor, with a focus on social justice.

Three members of female punk band Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, went on trial in Moscow’s Khamovniki Court today on charges of “hooliganism.”

Pussy Riot’s crime? Staging a one-song concert in February on the altar of the city’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.

Musical aficionados kindly gave Pussy Riot’s guerilla performance of “Punk Prayer” mixed reviews, but harsher critics at the Kremlin have rated the tune worthy of seven years in prison.

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The blasphemy was filmed. Take a look, and judge for yourself.

Someone in the Russian administration may have taken exception to the song’s chorus:

St. Maria, Virgin, Drive away Putin
Drive away! Drive away Putin!

The Pussy Rioters have been in prison for half a year awaiting trial. Like a scene from a Franz Kafka fever dream, the defendants, as seen above, are contained in a barred cage at Khamovniki Court while the wheels of Russian justice grind out in front of their pensive and vigilant faces.

The international community is also keeping a close watch on the trial, viewing it as a test case for President Vladimir Putin’s tolerance for dissent.

After six months’ incarceration, the Russian riot grrrls acknowledge some lapse in judgment.

“If our passion looked offensive, we sincerely regret that,” said Nadezhda Tolokonnikova through the band’s lawyer, Violetta Volkova. Tolokonnikova granted that unleashing Pussy Riot in a place of religious worship was an “ethical error.”

But the band denies committing any “hooliganism.” Yekaterina Samutsevich characterized the hooliganism charges as designed to “spread feelings of fear among those actively engaging with politics.”

What do you think of Pussy Riot? Gutsy political activists? Or self-aggrandizers gone sour? Spell out your position in COMMENTS.

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