Balloon riot, arrests as blaspheming band Pussy Riot in dock (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Around a hundred protesters and even more police have gathered at a Moscow court that is hearing the case of feminist punk band Pussy Riot, notorious for performing a blasphemous song in a cathedral. Some 20 demonstrators have been detained.
RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev
RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev

­Three members of the group were charged with hooliganism after bursting into Moscow’s main Christ the Savior Cathedral in February. At the altar, the band yelled out the song “Holy s**t”, which criticized the Church and government. Two other members, who also took part, have not been detained.

The unauthorized demo held by Pussy Riot supporters outside the court turned into an improvised performance as protesters arrived in costumes with balloons and musical instruments, and prepared to sing and recite poetry.

RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev
RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev

­The keenest Pussy Riot supporters tried to repeat the famed notorious look of the punk band members. Some cut holes in colorful hats, turning them into masks; others wore similar vivid dresses with bright tights.  Several enthusiastic activists even threw flares at police, and were promptly detained.


RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin
RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin

Representatives of the Orthodox believers’ community also turned out to condemn the band’s actions and demand punishment. Kommersant FM says after some of the protesters were arrested, the rest moved to a nearby park to continue what they called their "court festival".

Thursday’s hearing will determine whether the young women will remain in detention, as investigators request more time to work on the case. Earlier, the court sanctioned the detention of the three members until April 24.

The case has split public opinion in Russia, as some demand the girls face the gravest possible sentence for blaspheming against the Orthodox Church and offending believers’ feelings, while others call the band members “prisoners of conscience” and demand their immediate release.

Amnesty International, the Helsinki group and other human rights organizations have spoken out in support of the band, saying the accusation of criminal offense was “too serious, and the reaction of the authorities unduly harsh.” According to the latest opinion poll, almost a half of Russians consider the event hooliganism, and 21 per cent say it was blasphemous. 

Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Irina Loktina face up to seven years in prison if found guilty.

­For an unusual take on the story watch our new program Why you should care !

RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin
RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin

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