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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.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure the Russian government will immediately release them after seeing this protest from Toronto. If there’s anything that the Russian government cares about, it’s the will of the people and democratic demonstrations, especially those that take place in other countries.

    • Anonymous

      Except it’s not just Toronto.

      • Anonymous

        My point stands. Obviously I think the fact that the band is jail is wrong, but if the Russian government cared about free speech or public support, they wouldn’t have done this in the first place. If they’re willing to lock up a band, they obviously don’t care about what the people think.

        • Anonymous

          So we should all just be quiet and go home? Shrug our shoulders and go tsk-tsk? These protests are useful in showing our government that it matters, and presses *them* to put pressure on the Russian Government. Do you think that Putin would have said:

          “There is nothing good in what they did [but] I don’t think they should be judged too severely,” Mr Putin told reporters in London.

          If there was no pressure from Western governments on the issue? Pressure that starts (and continues) with protests such as this?

          Do I think *this* protest will free them? No. But will all the actions of concerned people and the government possibly help the situation? Maybe.

          A cynic says “likely not”, a optimist says “hopefully”, a lazy man says “it will mean nothing, so why bother”

    • Anonymous

      I bet Stephen Harper wishes he could lock up protesters. Oh wait, he did.

      • Anonymous

        I bet he wishes he could lock up opposition party members and those who elect them.

  • Anonymous

    The bad has – maybe? – a Canadian connection. It seems one of the members is – or isn’t? – a Permanent Resident, married to an immigrant from Russia.