Three young women, who made a punk-rock protest video against president Vladimir Putin in Russia’s main cathedral, go on trial today in Moscow.
The trial of the band Pussy Riot is being seen as a test of Putin’s tolerance of dissent and of the power of the resurgent Russian Orthodox Church.
The case has divided opinion in Russia and is being watched closely in the West.
The lawyer for the accused women is Nikolay Polozov: “According to Russian law what happened in Christ the Saviour Cathedral is subject not to the Criminal Code but to the administrative one.
“For such things a fine of around 15 to 30 US dollars is supposed to be imposed. That’s why we presume that the whole criminal trial is illegitimate despite all the state filters and the prosecutor’s office…therefore any verdict other than ‘not guilty’ will be illegal.”
The three women, two of whom have young children, have already spent over five months in jail since performing the stunt in February.
Five members of the band took over the pulpit at the cathedral. Wearing brightly coloured balaclavas and miniskirts they chanted ‘Mother Mary drive Putin away’.