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You're reading: Punk rockers perform anti-Putin protests

MOSCOW — Three feminist punk rockers in Russia may face years in prison for barging into Moscow's main cathedral to sing a song against Vladimir Putin as he set out to reclaim the presidency.

Wearing ski masks and
miniskirts in garish colors, the Pussy Riot band members danced and
high-kicked while belting out this refrain:

Virgin Mary, Mother of God, put Putin away.

Put Putin away, put Putin away.

The
case has caused international outrage and split Russian society. Some
say the women deserve to be punished for desecrating the Russian
Orthodox Church and offending believers, while others insist that the
women — who have already been in jail for five months — are being
unfairly punished for their political beliefs.

The three women,
all in their 20s, said their goal was to express their resentment over
the church’s open support for Putin’s rule.

Pussy Riot first
gained notoriety during the height of this winter’s anti-Putin protests,
when a video of their performance on Red Square became an Internet hit.
Standing on top of a stone platform once used for reading out the
czar’s decrees, the women sang a song called “Putin Got Scared.”

The refrain goes like this:

Revolt in Russia — the charisma of protest

Revolt in Russia — Putin got scared

Revolt in Russia — We exist!

Revolt in Russia — Riot! Riot!

As
the trial nears the end, prosecutors on Tuesday called for three-year
prison sentences, which they said was lenient because the hooliganism
charges they face carry a maximum sentence of seven years. They said
they took into account that two of the women have young children and
that they have good character references.

Putin has criticized the
punk rockers, but said their punishment shouldn’t be “too severe.”
Speaking during a visit to the London Olympics last week, Putin
suggested that the women should be grateful they didn’t try such a stunt
in Russia’s Caucasus, which is predominantly Muslim.

“If they had desecrated some Islamic holy site, we wouldn’t even have had time to take them into custody,” Putin said.

Putin’s
comments triggered speculation that the Kremlin was trying to find a
way to resolve the case without appearing weak or further angering
either side.

The case against the three women — Nadezhda
Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich — wrapped up on
Wednesday. The judge said she will issue a verdict next week, on Aug.
17.

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