Russian prosecutors ask for 3 years in punk case
MOSCOW – Prosecutors yersterday called for three-year sentences for the members of a feminist punk band who performed an anti-Vladimir Putin stunt in Moscow’s main cathedral, ignoring demands by human rights groups that the three women be set free.
Prosecutor Alexander Nikiforov portrayed the request as lenient, saying it takes into account the fact that two of the defendants are young mothers and that they have good references.
The hooliganism charges the three women face can carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison.
The three women - Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23; Maria Alekhina, 24; and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 - have been in custody for five months following the February stunt, in which they took over a church pulpit in Christ the Savior cathedral for less than a minute, singing, high-kicking and dancing.
Their case is part of a widening government crackdown on dissent that followed Putin’s election in March and caused strong protests in Russia and abroad. Musicians including Madonna, the Who’s Pete Townshend and Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys have urged their release, and Amnesty International has called them prisoners of conscience.
The verdict is expected this week.
The trial has sharply divided Russia. Some believers felt insulted by the act, while rights groups have declared the women prisoners of conscience.