Russia: crosses cut down

31 August 2012

THE three members of the Russian band Pussy Riot who have been sentenced to two years in prison ( Comment, News 24 August) condemned the destruction this week of four wooden crosses outside Orthodox churches in Russia.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Marya Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich were found guilty on 17 August of "hooliganism driven by religious hatred". On 21 February, they entered the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow to perform a punk-style song that called on the Virgin Mary to "throw Putin out".

The husband of Ms Tolokonnikova, Peter Verzilov, was reported as saying that the three women condemned the cutting down of crosses, one outside a church in the city of Arkhangelsk, in north-west Russia, and three in a village in the Chelyabinsk region. "We think the fact it was done anonymously means there is a high likelihood that it was done on the orders of the authorities," he said.

On Monday, The Guardian published an interview with Ms Samutsevich, via her lawyer, in which she said that the band "didn't expect a not-guilty verdict. . . More than anything, our trial showed the dependence of the justice system, and its direct authority, on [President] Putin's power.


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