Pussy Riot is a Russian feminist punk-rock band collective which stages politically provocative impromptu performances in Moscow on Russia's current political life. In March 2012, during an improvised and unauthorized concert in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, three women from the band were arrested and charged with 'hooliganism'. Alexei Nikiforov, a federal prosecutor, demanded prison for the trio because they 'abused God'. Pussy Riot's lawyers said that the circumstances of the case have revived the Soviet-era tradition of the show trial. Read more at Wikipedia.
A Moscow judge handed down prison sentences of two years on Friday afternoon for three young women who staged a protest against Vladimir V. Putin in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior last February and whose jailing and trial on hooliganism charges have generated worldwide criticism of constraints on political speech in Russia.
The New York Times tells us: As the judge, Marina Syrova, read the lengthy verdict, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the courthouse and shouted, “Free Pussy Riot!” Riot police officers arrested dozens of them, including the former chess champion Garry Kasparov, who is active in the Russian political opposition. Mr. Kasparov fought with the police and appeared to be beaten as he was bundled into a paddy wagon."
Our contacts tell us that he was outside the court house speaking to Radio Svoboda journalists when police pushed through to seize him. The 49-year-old Kasparov insisted he was not protesting, but the police grabbed him and violently dragged him into a police van, where he was further physically assaulted by the police, as documented by a photographer.
Kasparov is a long-time Russian pro-democracy leader. He chairs the United Civil Front in Russia and the US-based Human Rights Foundation, which issued a legal report on the Pussy Riot trial on Thursday. The report analyzed the case under the European standard of protection of freedom of expression and concluded that the arrest, bail denial, and criminal trial against the three women violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. “These young women have committed no crime. Their protest performance, while understandably offending some at the church that day, constitutes political speech that should be unconditionally protected,” said Garry Kasparov, chairman of HRF. “Having them imprisoned without bail for over five months is unacceptable. Anything but acquittal tomorrow will be a disgrace and another slap in the face of civilized standards of justice. If they are not acquitted it will be more proof that so-called Russian democracy continues to erode under Putin. Without question, Pussy Riot will eventually obtain a favorable verdict at the European Court of Human Rights.”
Latest: On his Facebook page we read, "Garry is going from the police station to the hospital to check his injuries and to confirm he is not intoxicated or biting anyone! Then he may have to go back to the police station briefly tonight, and again next week. It seems the police really want to use this 'biting an officer' story as a threat to charge Kasparov with assault. Even though there's a video of Garry being carried away by four large police officers. I hope the next update here will be by Garry himself at his home in Moscow!"
There are almost two thousand reports in the news media, and it will be all over the TV news this evening. We have selected a few for you to read. Click on the images to jump to the news stories. Naturally we will be following the development closely and will update you as more news comes in. In the meantime you can follow things on Kasparov's Facebook page and Mig Greengard's Twitter feed (at the bottom of the page). The first BBC link here provides dramatic video footage.
You can also contact Mig Greengard at +1 917.495.9460 or firstname.lastname@example.org.