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Pussy Riot Members Appeal Convictions

Russian punk band says sentences show Putin is 'scared'

Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot.
-/AFP/GettyImages
August 28, 2012 9:05 AM ET

A lawyer for members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot has appealed their convictions on charges of "hooliganism" for a protest against President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral earlier this year, Reuters reports, even as the musicians say they're more committed than ever to seeking the removal of Putin.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, were each sentenced to two years in prison August 17th for their February "punk-prayer" demonstration in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral. Their lawyer, Nikolai Polozov, said he doubts the court will reverse the convictions. "If the court abides by the law it would throw out the verdict," Polozov said. "But being realists, understanding all the efforts the state has put into this case, we think it's unlikely the verdict will be overturned."

Musicians including Paul McCartney, Madonna and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have expressed support for Pussy Riot in a case that has drawn widespread criticism for being a politically motivated show trial intended to suppress dissent against Putin. 

Police in Russia had been seeking additional members of Pussy Riot, two of whom fled the country over the weekend. One of the jailed rockers, Samutsevich, told The Guardian that the trial strengthened their resolve to push for change.

"Our verdict shows just how scared Putin's regime is of anyone who can undermine its legitimacy," she said, in response to written questions the newspaper submitted through the band's lawyer.

Samutsevich said the future of Pussy Riot is uncertain for now, though their commitment to political reform has only grown stronger. "We, along with many citizens of our country, are burning even more with the desire to finally take from Putin his monopoly on power, since his image no longer seems so total and terrible," she said.

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