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Putin whipping girls Pussy Riot out of jail free

Three days after President Vladimir Putin’s liberation of former oil tycoon and opposition critic Mikhaïl Khodorkovsky from prison, it was the turn of two members of punk rock protest group Pussy Riot to be let go: Maria Alekhina and Nadejda Tolokonnikova.

The act that put the anti-Putin band behind bars was a performance in February 2012 in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. They called on the Virgin Mary to exorcise Putin from the Kremlin. He was Prime Minister at the time, running for president again. The election was two weeks away.

Once he was revoted into the highest office, three members of Pussy Riot – Nadejda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Ekaterina Samoutsevitch were arrested. Their trial commenced in July. In August they were sentenced to two years in penitentiary, on a conviction of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

Varvara Tolokonnikova, aged 79, is the grandmother of Pussy Rioter Nadezhda. She felt Putin should have behaved differently: “Even if they didn’t hurt Putin, he is a very resentful person, very vain. It was a slap in the face for him. He couldn’t forgive them, didn’t want to. That’s why things turned out the way they did.”

Pussy Riot slapped Putin over policies they blasted as discriminating against women. They claimed a place among global anti-capitalist movements, notably feminists. They defy labelling, haven’t made an album, and don’t call themselves artists or poets, yet they brew politics, religion and art into their protest mix. Their prison status made them anti-Putin icons.Ekaterina Samoutsevitch was freed in October 2012.

Cathedral guards had prevented her from taking part in the offending performance, and her sentence was suspended. The other Rioters, in spite of being mothers of young children, although they appealed and went on hunger strikes, were thrown in jail, even after one was taken to hospital. They were sent to labour camps far from Moscow where they were to serve out their time until March 2014.

Copyright © 2014 euronews

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