Pussy Riot: violation of public order or freedom of speech?

According to CNN article entitled: Russian court finds Pussy Riot members guilty of hooliganism, judge, Marina Sirovaya found the members of the Russian female punk rock band Pussy Riot guilty of hooliganism Friday for performing a song critical of President Vladimir Putin.

The judge said the charges against Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were proved by witnesses and the facts.

The Pussy Riot members were accused after screaming “Mother Mary, please drive Putin away” in a protest act inside Christ Savior Cathedral, one of Moscow’s grandest houses of worship.

The judge is expected to bring down the sentence against the women once the facts of the case have been read out, Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency said.

The band was charged with offending people through their actions and their closing, and showing disrespect for the rules of the Orthodox Church. However, their actions challenge international concern about freedom of speech in Russia.

The women wore neon clothing and covered their faces with balaclavas which is inappropriate for a church then they made use of a microphone and guitar.

The three women are not older than 30 and two of them have young children. They have been imprisoned since their arrest shortly after the unexpected performance.

There are many supporters of the Pussy Riot group. Pop star Madonna last week performed wearing balaclava-style mask and with the group’s name on her back during her concert in Moscow.

“Everyone has the right to free speech, everywhere in the world. Maria, Katya, Nadya, I pray for you. They did something brave with their action. And I am praying for their freedom.”

Rallies have been organized in their support outside Russian embassies around the world, including London and Washington.

Putin said the women should not be judged “too harshly,” and he hoped the court makes “the right decision.”