The members of Russian punk trio Pussy Riot have been sentenced to two years in jail each after being found guilty of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" for singing an anti-Vladimir Putin song in a cathedral.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, and Maria Alyokhina, 24, donned balaclavas to sing their "punk prayer" protest song which criticises the Russian president in Moscow's cathedral.

According to reports the women laughed in court when they received their sentences as members of the public cried "shame".

pussy riot court

Supporters of feminist punk group Pussy Riot stand behind barricades surrounding a court in Moscow

State prosecutor Alexei Nikiforov, who had asked for the group to get three years in prison, called the trio "abusers of God" while judge Marina Syrova said the trio's actions were "blasphemous."

The judge indicated the defendants' feminism could be linked to "religious hatred": "The court does find a religious hatred motive in the actions of the defendants by way of them being feminists who consider men and women to be equal."


R.L. Ripples
“I am what you call a ‘hooligan’." --Emmeline Pankhurst, British political activist/suffragist,1912


Sally Bercow
Russia an absolute global disgrace. Shocking.

Pussy Riot have received support from musicians from Madonna to Paul McCartney, as well as politicians with British MP, Kerry McCarthy, attending the trio's trial.

Human rights activists around the globe have condemned the band's prison sentence, and many took to the streets to demonstrate in support of the Russian punks.

In London, crowds of banner-waving supporters protested outside the Russian embassy in Kensington Palace Gardens and masked demonstrators also protested in O'Connell Street, Dublin's main thoroughfare.

Amnesty International said the verdict was a "bitter blow to freedom of expression in Russia", condemning the band's "two in years prison for a 30 second protest song," adding they believed the trial was politically motivated.

"It sends a dangerous message throughout the world," they added.

Speaking about the sentence, McCarthy told The Huffington Post UK: "It's out of all proportion to what they did.

"I think whichever way it [the sentence] went I think it would have had a galvanising effect on the protest movement in Russia," she added.

Speaking following the verdict, British Labour MP and former Europe minister Chris Bryant said the bands' sentences "show the twin dead hands of the Russian Orthodox church and Vladimir Putin are taking Russia back a century."

Tanya Lokshina, Researcher for Russia at Human Rights Watch, based in Moscow told The Huffington Post UK the case had galvanised activists in Russia.

"The case seems to have crystallised for many Russians how problematic the situation with freedom of expression and independence of judiciary has been in Russia.


Amnesty UK
'We are freer than all those who sit opposite us on the side of the prosecutor' - the bravest of in-court statements


ian bremmer
for all the criticism from the West,#PussyRiot isn't aligned w Rus popular opinion. most Russians despise them,disapprove of their actions

"Because of the reaction to the case, the intense public campaign, the fact that this individual case, is going to really change things in Russia."

In a strongly worded statement EU representative Cathy Ashton said the sentence was disappointing and "disproportionate"

"It puts a serious question mark over Russia’s respect for international obligations of fair, transparent, and independent legal process. It also runs counter to Russia’s international obligations as regards respect for freedom of expression. This case adds to the recent upsurge in politically motivated intimidation and prosecution of opposition activists in the Russian Federation, a trend that is of growing concern to the European Union"

Reuters reports that few Russians are outraged, as pollsters Levada found 51% felt nothing, or were actively hostile to the band, whereas 6% felt sorry for the punk trio.

garry kasparov

But in skirmishes outside court, Russian leftest leader Sergei Udaltsov and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov were among those arrested.

Udaltsov shouted "shame on Putin" as he was detained.


Louise Mensch
Shocked and appalled to see the verdict this is a stain on Putin and Russia

In a letter released by her lawyer the evening before the verdict, Pussy Riot's Samutsevich said the trial had highlighted what she saw as the oppressive nature of the Putin administration irrespective of the outcome.

"The system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial," she said. "Once again, the world sees Russia differently than the way Putin tries to present it at his daily international meetings.

"Clearly, none of the steps Putin promised to take toward instituting the rule of law has been taken."

On Thursday, the former president of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev told the BBC the case was "a completely pointless undertaking" that should not be taking place.

In the closing statement in court, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said: "Listen to our words and not to what [pro-Putin television journalist] Arkady Mamontov says about us. Do not distort and falsify what we say. "

Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said the British government was "deeply concerned" by the "disproportionate" sentencing.

"The Government is committed to a relationship with Russia in which we can discuss differences frankly and constructively.

"We have repeatedly called on the Russian authorities to protect human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, and apply the rule of law in a non-discriminatory and proportionate way.

"Today's verdict calls into question Russia's commitment to protect these fundamental rights and freedoms."


Loading Slideshow...
  • SPAIN-RUSSIA-POLITICS-MUSIC-RIGHTS-PROTEST

    A supporter of all-girl punk band 'Pussy Riot' raises her middle finger at a protest near the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona on August 17, 2012 . A Moscow court on Friday pronounced a guilty verdict in the case of three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot who staged a protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a landmark church.AFP PHOTO / JOSEP LAGO (Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • RUSSIA-POLITICS-MUSIC-RIGHTS-PROTEST

    Supporters of feminist punk band Pussy Riot hold posters reading 'I believe in justice!' outside a court building in Moscow on August 17, 2012 where the trial of the band is taking place. Moscow's court today pronounced a guilty verdict in the case of three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot who staged a protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a landmark church. AFP PHOTO / ANDREY SMIRNOV (Photo credit should read ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/GettyImages)

  • RUSSIA-POLITICS-MUSIC-RIGHTS-PROTEST

    A man walks past a police van with a sticker reading 'Free Pussy Riot!' outside a court building in Moscow on August 17, 2012 where the trial of feminist punk band Pussy Riot is taking place. Moscow's court today pronounced a guilty verdict in the case of three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot who staged a protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a landmark church. AFP PHOTO / ANDREY SMIRNOV (Photo credit should read ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/GettyImages)

  • SPAIN-RUSSIA-POLITICS-MUSIC-RIGHTS-PROTEST

    A supporter of all-girl punk band 'Pussy Riot' holds up a picture of one of the band members at a protest near the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona on August 17, 2012. A Moscow court on Friday pronounced a guilty verdict in the case of three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot who staged a protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a landmark church. AFP PHOTO / JOSEP LAGO (Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • SPAIN-RUSSIA-POLITICS-MUSIC-RIGHTS-PROTEST

    Supporters of all-girl punk band 'Pussy Riot' protest near the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona on August 17, 2012 . A Moscow court on Friday pronounced a guilty verdict in the case of three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot who staged a protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a landmark church.AFP PHOTO / JOSEP LAGO (Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • SPAIN-RUSSIA-POLITICS-MUSIC-RIGHTS-PROTEST

    Supporters of all-girl punk band 'Pussy Riot' protest near the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona on August 17, 2012 . A Moscow court on Friday pronounced a guilty verdict in the case of three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot who staged a protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a landmark church.AFP PHOTO / JOSEP LAGO (Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • BRITAIN-RUSSIA-POLITICS-MUSIC-RIGHTS-PROTEST

    Masked supporters of all-girl punk band 'Pussy Riot' protest near the Russian embassy in London on August 17, 2012. A Moscow court on Friday pronounced a guilty verdict in the case of three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot who staged a protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a landmark church. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Protesters gather outside the Russian embassy in Edinburgh to protest against the conviction of members of the provocative Russian punk band Pussy Riot. Photo credit: David Cheskin/PA

  • A policeman tries to detain a masked supporter of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot inside the Turkish embassy near the court in Moscow, Russia. A Moscow judge has sentenced each of three members of the provocative punk band Pussy Riot to two years in prison on hooliganism charges following a trial that has drawn international outrage as an emblem of Russia's intolerance to dissent. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Police officers detain a supporter of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot outside a court in Moscow, Russia. A Moscow judge has sentenced each of three members of the provocative punk band Pussy Riot to two years in prison on hooliganism charges following a trial that has drawn international outrage as an emblem of Russia's intolerance to dissent. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Police officers detain a supporter of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot outside a court in Moscow, Russia. A Moscow judge has sentenced each of three members of the provocative punk band Pussy Riot to two years in prison on hooliganism charges following a trial that has drawn international outrage as an emblem of Russia's intolerance to dissent. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Supporters of the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot protest outside the Russian Embassy in London, as the verdict in their case is announced in Moscow. A Russian judge found three members of the provocative punk band Pussy Riot guilty of hooliganism on Friday, in one of the most closely watched cases in recent Russian history. The judge said the three band members committed hooliganism driven by religious hatred and offending religious believers. The three were arrested in March after a guerrilla performance in Moscow's main cathedral calling for the Virgin Mary to protect Russia against Vladimir Putin, who was elected to a new term as Russia's president a few days later. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

  • A masked demonstrator holds a banner in support of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot, whose members face prison for a stunt against President Vladimir Putin, outside Russia's embassy in Berlin. The three female band members have been in jail for more than five months because of an anti-Putin prank in Moscow's main cathedral. A judge is due to rule on their case Friday. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

  • Protesters hold placards in support of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot, whose members face prison for a stunt against President Vladimir Putin, outside Russia's embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel. The three female band members have been in jail for more than five months because of an anti-Putin prank in Moscow's main cathedral. A judge is due to rule on their case Friday. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia. The women, two of whom have young children, are charged with hooliganism connected to religious hatred but the case is widely seen as a warning that authorities will only tolerate opposition under tightly controlled conditions. T-shirt on right worn by Tolokonnikova is Spanish and translates to "They shall not pass", a slogan often used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

  • Amnesty International activists protest close the Russian Embassy in Brussels for the release of three Pussy Riot band members, who face three years in prison for staging a protest stunt against President Vladimir Putin inside a landmark Moscow church. A Moscow court on Friday found guilty three young members of a feminist punk band who captured global attention by defying the Russian authorities and ridiculing President Vladimir Putin in a church. The prosecution has sought three years of corrective labour for a hooliganism motivated by religious hatred conviction. Syrova was expected to issue her sentence later Friday. (Photo credit: GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images)


SEE ALSO

Topless Feminists FEMEN Protest In Support Of Pussy Riot (PICTURES)

Kerry McCarthy: Inside the Pussy Riot Trial

Madonna Dons Pussy Riot's Trademark Balaclava To Show Support In Moscow, Russia (PICTURES)

Pop Stars Urge Putin To Release Punk Band Pussy Riot



The Lyrics of the song that Pussy Riot were jailed for performing.

Punk-Prayer "Virgin Mary, Put Putin Away"

(choir)

Virgin Mary, Mother of God, put Putin away
Рut Putin away, put Putin away

(end chorus)

...
Black robe, golden epaulettes
All parishioners crawl to bow
The phantom of liberty is in heaven
Gay-pride sent to Siberia in chains

The head of the KGB, their chief saint,
Leads protesters to prison under escort
In order not to offend His Holiness
Women must give birth and love

Shit, shit, the Lord's shit!
Shit, shit, the Lord's shit!

(Chorus)

Virgin Mary, Mother of God, become a feminist
Become a feminist, become a feminist

(end chorus)

The Church’s praise of rotten dictators
The cross-bearer procession of black limousines
A teacher-preacher will meet you at school
Go to class - bring him money!

Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin
Bitch, better believe in God instead
The belt of the Virgin can’t replace mass-meetings
Mary, Mother of God, is with us in protest!

(Chorus)

Virgin Mary, Mother of God, put Putin away
Рut Putin away, put Putin away

(end chorus)

Related on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia on Friday, Aug 17, 2012. The women, two of whom have young children, are charged with hooliganism connected to religious hatred but the case is widely seen as a warning that authorities will only tolerate opposition under tightly controlled conditions. T-shirt on right worn by Tolokonnikova is Spanish and translates to "They shall not pass", a slogan often used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

  • Yekaterina Samutsevich, right, a member of feminist punk group Pussy Riot is excorted to a court room in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. Security is tight around a Moscow courthouse where three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot are to hear the verdict Friday in a trial that could send them to prison for seven years. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, right, a member of feminist punk group Pussy Riot is escorted to a court room in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. Security is tight around the Moscow courthouse where three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot are to hear the verdict Friday in a trial that could send them to prison for seven years. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Feminist punk group Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sits at a glass cage at a court in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. Security is tight around the Moscow courthouse where three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot are to hear the verdict Friday in a trial that could send them to prison for seven years. T-shirt on right worn by Tolokonnikova is Spanish and translates to "They shall not pass", a slogan often used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Feminist punk group Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich sits inside a glass cage at a court in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. Security is tight around a Moscow courthouse where three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot are to hear the verdict Friday in a trial that could send them to prison for seven years. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Feminist punk group Pussy Riot member Maria Alekhina sits inside a glass cage at a court in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. Security is tight around a Moscow courthouse where three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot are to hear the verdict Friday in a trial that could send them to prison for seven years. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia on Friday, Aug 17, 2012. The women, two of whom have young children, are charged with hooliganism connected to religious hatred, but the case is widely seen as a warning that authorities will only tolerate opposition under tightly controlled conditions.(AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)

  • Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia on Friday, Aug 17, 2012. The women, two of whom have young children, are charged with hooliganism connected to religious hatred. But the case is widely seen as a warning that authorities will tolerate opposition only under tightly controlled conditions.T-shirt on right worn by Tolokonnikova is Spanish and translates to "They shall not pass", a slogan often used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy.(AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)

  • Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, right, Yekaterina Samutsevich, left, and Maria Alekhina, center, members of feminist punk group Pussy Riot seen behind a glass wall at a court in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. The three members who were jailed in March following a guerrilla performance denouncing President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main cathedral, and they now face a maximum seven years in jail. T-shirt on right worn by Tolokonnikova is Spanish and translates to "They shall not pass", a slogan often used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

  • Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, right, Yekaterina Samutsevich, left, and Maria Alekhina, center, members of feminist punk group Pussy Riot seen behind a glass wall at a court in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012.

  • Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, right, Maria Alekhina, center, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. The three women in the band have been in jail for more than five months because of a prank they carried out in Moscow's main cathedral in a demonstration against Russia's Vladimir Putin, and they now face a maximum seven years in jail. T-shirt on right worn by Tolokonnikova is Spanish and translates to "They shall not pass", a slogan often used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of female Russian punk band Pussy Riot, stands inside defendands cage in a Moscow court, on April 19, 2012, during the hearings on the Pussy Riot case. Three members of the all-woman punk band 'Pussy Riot' were detained two months ago, after they climbed on the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral -- the country's central place of worship -- and sang a song they called a 'Punk Prayer'. The women have been charged with hooliganism committed by an organised group -- an unusually harsh charge for protesters. (Photo credit: ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Members of the all-girl punk band 'Pussy Riot' Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L), Maria Alyokhina (R) and Yekaterina Samutsevich (C), sit behind bars during a court hearing in Moscow on July 30, 2012. In February, five women walked silently into Moscow's Church of Christ the Saviour before clambering over railings, pulling on balaclavas and yelling out a protest song against Vladimir Putin. The 'punk prayer' by the all-woman group Pussy Riot lasted around a minute. Three women arrested in March over the incident face up to seven years in a prison colony after being charged with hooliganism and have already spent four months awaiting trial . (Photo credit: ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Members of the all-girl punk band 'Pussy Riot' Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L), Maria Alyokhina (R) and Yekaterina Samutsevich (C), sit behind bars during a court hearing in Moscow on July 30, 2012. In February, five women walked silently into Moscow's Church of Christ the Saviour before clambering over railings, pulling on balaclavas and yelling out a protest song against Vladimir Putin. The 'punk prayer' by the all-woman group Pussy Riot lasted around a minute. Three women arrested in March over the incident face up to seven years in a prison colony after being charged with hooliganism and have already spent four months awaiting trial . (Photo credit: ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Members of the all-girl punk band 'Pussy Riot' Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L), Maria Alyokhina (R) and Yekaterina Samutsevich (C), sit behind bars during a court hearing in Moscow on July 23, 2012. Three members of the all-woman punk band 'Pussy Riot' Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were detained, after they climbed on the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral on February 21, 2012 - the country's central place of worship - and sang a song they called a 'Punk Prayer'. The women have been charged with hooliganism committed by an organised group - an unusually harsh charge for protesters. (Photo credit: ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/GettyImages)

  • A Police officer escorts a member of female punk band 'Pussy Riot' Nadezhda Tolokonnikova during a court hearing in Moscow on July 20, 2012. Three members of the all-woman punk band 'Pussy Riot' Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were detained, after they climbed on the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral on February 21, 2012 - the country's central place of worship - and sang a song they called a 'Punk Prayer'. The women have been charged with hooliganism committed by an organised group - an unusually harsh charge for protesters. (Photo credit: ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/GettyImages)

  • One of the few supporters of female Russian punk band Pussy Riot rally outside a Moscow court, on July 9, 2012, to support the musicians during the hearings on the Pussy Riot case. Three members of the all-woman punk band 'Pussy Riot' were detained, after wearing masks they climbed on the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral - the country's central place of worship - and sang a song they called a 'Punk Prayer'. The women have been charged with hooliganism committed by an organised group - an unusually harsh charge for protesters. (Photo credit: ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Supporters of female Russian punk band Pussy Riot, who were detained outside a Moscow court during the hearings on the Pussy Riot case, on July 4, 2012, wave from window of a police bus. Three members of the all-woman punk band 'Pussy Riot' were detained, after they climbed on the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral - the country's central place of worship - and sang a song they called a 'Punk Prayer'. The women have been charged with hooliganism committed by an organised group - an unusually harsh charge for protesters. (Photo credit: ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/GettyImages)

  • A man writes on a wall dedicated to supporting the detained members of the Russian all-girl punk rock band Pussy Riot on June 18, 2012, in Prague. The members of the radical group climbed on the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral -- the country's central place of worship -- on February 21 and sang a song they called a 'Punk Prayer' before being seized by guards. The women have been charged with hooliganism committed by an organised group -- an unusually harsh charge for protesters - and face a potential 7 years in prison. (Photo credit: MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/GettyImages)