Russian Punk Band Pussy Riot Found Guilty, Given 2-Year Jail Terms

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Russian Punk Band Pussy Riot Found Guilty, Given 2-Year Jail Terms
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Russian Punk Band Pussy Riot Found Guilty, Given 2-Year Jail Terms

The three members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot have been found guilty of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" for staging an anti-government protest concert inside a church. The three members of the band have been given two year jail sentences, dating from their arrest on March 15. The women laughed and rolled their eyes as the sentences were read.

RELATED: White House, State Department Back Pussy Riot

For those who are less familiar with the case, band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were put on trial after performing a mock 40-second concert inside a Russian Orthodox church, the latest in string of guerrilla-style protests they performed in protest of President Vladimir Putin. (The actually filmed a mimed performance, then added music later and posted the video online. You can watch the original, unedited video below.) Prosecutors have demanded a three-year prison sentence for insulting the religion and Putin and for shouting "blasphemous" remarks inside the church.

RELATED: 'Putin Is Expected to Challenge Medvedev to an Arm Wrestling Match'

Putin himself said he hopes the women are not treated "too severely," though few believed that sentiment given that their performances (and their very existence as a band) were a direct challenge to his return to power earlier this year. The husband of one of the band members said, "No-one in Russia, no-one outside the world has any doubt that it's Putin personally who will be choosing the sentence ... Everyone understands that in Russia, it's Putin who gets the decision in the court cases, not the judge, not anyone else." Members of the group were laughing and smirking as the lengthy verdict was read out loud for close to three hours.

RELATED: Pussy Riot Doesn't Sound Too Optimistic

Other protests have sprung up all over the world in support of the band. Eggs were thrown at the Russian embassy in Moscow last night (though that might have been the work of Syrian protesters), and in Kiev, a topless woman wielding a chainsaw cut down a giant wooden cross that a feminist group declared to be a symbol of religious prejudice.

RELATED: Pussy Riot Fires Lawyers, Hearing Postponed

Hundreds of supports gathered outside the courtroom to await the verdict, many of them wearing colorful masks like those worn by the band during their performances and interviews. The masks have also been spotted on statues all over Moscow.

RELATED: Russian Prime Minister Calls for the Release of Pussy Riot

Opposition politicians, including former world chess champion Gary Kasparov, have been arrested outside the courthouse. A witness captured this image of Kasparov struggling with police officers as they attempted to put him into a paddywagon. (Image via Olaf Koens.)

The band's lawyer, Mark Feygin, was resigned to the verdict even before it came down:

Pussy Riot's lawyer @mark_feygin just tweeted: "Well, they'll be convicted. No use in harboring any illusions. However, no one is afraid."

— Paul Sonne (@paulsonne) August 17, 2012

Here is the original unedited video of the incident that got them in trouble. They will be allowed to appeal.

They also managed to release a new song today, "Putin Lights Up the Fires", which The Guardian helpfully turned into a music video.

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