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The Week That Was: Riot Starters

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And so it came to pass. The London 2012 Olympics were over, and we all woke up on Monday morning not entirely sure what do so with ourselves, or more importantly our free time. What had we watched before the BBC's glorious gold-medal-infused evening montages? What had we read before the pages and pages of self-satisfied editorials and in-depth athletics reports?

We emerged blinking into the light, because, shock horror, the sun was still there, and what did we do? We logged on in our millions and bought up the remaining Paralympic tickets, and then we sought out everything still being written about the Olympics and sucked it up with relish. (I speak as someone who has just spent the best part of 45 minutes devouring The Times Magazine's Olympics Saturday special. And having cried. Three times. I mainly blame the picture editor's choice of photos of lightweight double sculls champions Sophie Hosking and Kat Copeland. I didn't know what double sculls was this time three weeks ago.)

But with Jessica Ennis still on the front pages of our papers (and if there is any justice in the world, still gracing glossy magazines for many months and years to come, edging out the reality TV stars and skinny models), there were some new female faces making a play for the headlines this week, and as worthy as role models for the next generation of young girls as our homegrown Olympic champion.

While Jess sent Sheffield into a riot of fluttering Union Jacks and gold accessories on Friday, hundreds of miles away, three young women paid for their beliefs and courage with a trio of harsh two-year jail sentences handed down by a Russian court.

Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezha Tolokonnikova, who stood accused of hooliganism motivated by 'religious hatred', having performed an anti-Putin, 'punk prayer' song in the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow earlier this year, laughed openly as judge Marina Syrova dictated their fate in a Moscow courtroom. If they weren't household names before for their participation in the group Pussy Riot, they most certainly are now.

They cemented their fearless reputation by releasing a new song, Putin Lights Up The Fires, just minutes after the sentence was delivered.

Condemnation for their sentences has come from across the world, with Angela Merkel saying, "Today's verdict calls into question Russia's commitment to protect these fundamental rights and freedoms," and a White House spokesman adding: "The United States is disappointed by the verdict, including the disproportionate sentences that were granted."

Even Russia's Orthodox Church, which said the protest was a "blasphemy", now claim to have forgiven the women.

While their lawyers pledged to appeal, supporters came out in their droves, and the world found some new heroines to pep up their front pages.

Of course, the good Vs bad argument is never that simple, and while the world's press seemingly came out in support of the faces of Pussy Riot, there were a few dissenters noting the irony of the Russian court's actions. In attempting to silence Putin's artistic opponents, it has only drawn more publicity to their cause.

No matter how you look at it, or whichever event has piqued your interest this August, one thing is not in doubt: the summer of 2012 is providing plenty of likely candidates to inspire the next generation.