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Nudity, masks and color: Protests for Pussy Riot

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Aug. 17, 2012, 2:09 p.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Associated Press

Pussy Riot punk group supporters place masks on a monument to WWII heroes to resemble Pussy Riot members, at an underground station in Moscow on Friday, Aug. 17, 2012.
© AP Photo/Yevgeny Feldman, Novaya Gazeta

Associated Press

Associated Press

PARIS — They asked for undies on heads, masks, and as much color as possible on Friday. They got a topless activist hacking down a cross in Ukraine, balaclavas on Soviet-era statues of soldiers in Bulgaria, and signs for "Justice" in Spain.

Organizers of protests in more than three dozen cities around the world are hoping thousands of others will turn out in raucous support of Pussy Riot, the Russian provocateurs facing a verdict in Moscow.

The three women in the band, who have been in jail for more than five months because of a guerrilla performance denouncing President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main cathedral, face a maximum seven years in prison.

In Ukraine, four feminist activists, one of them topless, used a chainsaw to hack down a wooden cross in Kiev's central square in a show of support.

"A cross is a symbol of the repressive religious prejudice that supports dictatorship. Now people who worship the cross want to jail the innocent," said Anna Gutsol, leader of the group that chopped down the nearly 6-meter (18-foot) tall cross put into place during Ukraine's Orange Revolution.

In Sofia, Bulgaria, supporters of Pussy Riot dressed statues on a Soviet-era monument in colorful balaclavas similar to those worn by demonstrators in Moscow.

Celebrities including Paul McCartney, Madonna and Bjork have called for the band to be freed. Germany's top human rights official, Markus Loening, joined them Friday, saying their detention had already been "fully disproportionate."

The trial on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred has attracted worldwide attention as an emblem of Russia's intolerance of dissent.

In Paris, a protest is planned to coincide with the verdict on Igor Stravinsky Square, near the Centre Pompidou modern art museum. In Washington and capitals around Europe, protests are planned outside Russian embassies.

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