‘Pussy Riot’ Trial Punks Russia’s Rulers
Members of female punk band “Pussy Riot” Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, left, Maria Alekhina, centre and Yekaterina Samutsevich sit inside a glass enclosure during a court hearing in Moscow on August 8, 2012. They have been jailed for crudely calling on the Virgin Mary to ‘put Putin away.’NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Punk’d. That’s how Russian President Vladimir Putin, a latter-day czar, must have felt when the feminist Pussy Riot band invaded Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow last winter to belt out a “punk prayer” crudely calling on the Virgin Mary to “put Putin away.”
Now, after a Stalin-like show trial that has just ground to a close, it is the punkers themselves who may be put away. Next week Judge Marina Syrova will decide their fate in a case that has exposed the hypersensitive Putin regime and its legal system to ridicule and has validated criticism that it tolerates no dissent.
The crazily-clad, high-kicking punkers spent all of 40 seconds on their protest in an all-but-empty church. No one but Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill’s clerics and a few bystanders had cause to be offended. Even so, Maria Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich, all in their 20s, have spent five months in the slammer, far more than their minor key sacrilege deserves. The video, of course, went viral.