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Supporters Rally Outside Russian Consulate as Pussy Riot Sentenced to Jail

Cries of "Free Pussy Riot!" in protest of today's conviction of three punk rockers.


A crowd of about 200 gathered outside the Russian consulate in Toronto at noon today, to rally against the conviction of Pussy Riot over their recent protest song, performed in a Moscow church in March of this year. The guerilla performance, which lasted just a few seconds, was recorded and went viral on YouTube; three members of the punk band have been in prison since they were arrested a few days later. Today, a judge found the three women—Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich—guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and sentenced them to two years of corrective labour (with time already served counting toward that). The judge described her sentence as lenient, softened by the fact that two of the women have young children.

The Toronto protest included many Russian expats, as well as others showing their support for free expression in Russia. One protester we spoke with, Alla Kadysh, came here from Russia nearly 20 years ago. “Two years for singing a song?” she said, incredulously. “There is separation of church and state in Russia; this is the law.” She told us that among the people she knows still in Russia—and especially among the younger generation—there is an appetite to keep protesting, despite the increasingly harsh penalties for doing so. There were protests outside the Moscow court where the verdict was read today; several participants and observers (including Russian opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov and chess master Gary Kasparov) were arrested.

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