- Pussy Riot’s two-year sentence sparks anger on Twitter and Facebook
- Celebrity campaigners share messages of support, photos, news updates
- Ukraine feminist group, Femen, arrested after chainsawing monument in show of solidarity
- Russian opposition leader Gary Kasparov supposedly assaulted by police outside Moscow court
London (CNN) — As three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot appeared in a Moscow court charged with hooliganism, the Twittersphere lit up with pictures and messages of support from around the world.
Pussy Riot band members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, were sentenced to two years in prison after performing a song criticizing President Vladimir Putin inside Moscow’s Christ Savior Cathedral in February.
“Mother Mary please drive Putin away,” the band had screamed during the offending gig, their faces covered in the neon masks which have now become synonymous with their campaign.
‘Pussy Riot’ convicted and sentenced
Star support for Russian punk band
The court case has sparked demonstrations of support
across Europe and the U.S. An activist from feminist group Femen cuts down an Orthodox cross in Ukraine, erected in memory of victims of political oppression, in a show of solidarity with the punk band.
Pro-Pussy Riot demonstrators gather in St. Petersburg. Putin criticized the band’s action earlier this month but said they should not be judged “too harshly,” according to state-run news agency RIA Novosti.
Women in waiting
Writing on the wall?
Pussy Riot masks
Celebrity supporters including Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, actress and model Bianca Jagger and Robert Smith of The Cure, tweeted their disgust with the charges, calling for greater freedom of speech in the country.
“I hope you can stay strong and believe that I, and many others like me who believe in free speech will do everything in our power to support you and the idea of artistic freedom,” Paul McCartney posted on Twitter.
Former Dawsons Creek actress Mischa Barton tweeted: “I can’t believe sentencing #pussyriot to2 yrs in jail.as someone who lived in Moscow and has filmed& seen inside the jails my heart goes out.”
While the young women awaited their fate in Moscow, balaclava-clad campaigners gathered outside Russian embassies across Europe and the U.S., sharing their photos across social media.
“#PussyRiot supporters outside London embassy shout ‘Shame’ and ‘Putin scum’ as they hear of guilty verdict,” Moscow news channel RT London Bureau tweeted.
Amnesty UK urged its Twitter followers to join the demonstrations, posting: “2 years in jail. #PussyRiot sentence is a bitter blow for freedom of expression in Russia.”
Outside the court in Moscow however, not everyone was backing the Pussy Riot cause, with civil activist Oleg Kozlovsky tweeting: “Some anti- #PussyRiot demonstrators were heard chanting “Burn the witches!” Hello Russia, this is 21st century.”
In Kiev, members of the feminist activist group Femen reportedly used a chainsaw to cut down an orthodox cross which had been erected in memory of victims of political repression.
Husband of jailed Pussy Riot band member
Female punk band mocks Putin, is jailed
The feminist group is best known for demonstrating topless and revealed on Facebook they had also been charged for taking a chainsaw to the Ukraine Independence Monument, saying: “FEMEN says if russian activists will be sentenced to prison terms, FEMEN will show their chainsaw for Putin and Gundyaev.”
Russian opposition leader and former world chess champion Gary Kasparov was also reportedly arrested after attending demonstrations outside the court in Moscow.
Photos of him supposedly being assaulted by police were quickly posted on Twitter.
“He was not there to protest, simply to attend, and the police cornered him and dragged him into the police van,” Kasparov’s assistants posted on his Facebook wall.
“He was beaten but says he is okay. He isn’t sure what will happen next. It seems the police are waiting for orders from above. He says he was standing calmly speaking with journalists when police pushed through and grabbed him.”
As the three young women sat in a glass cage awaiting their sentence, a rolling stream of messages of support continued to flood Twitter.
Campaigners shared the locations of demonstrations, photos and news updates. As one young journalist and supporter Jessica Haworth tweeted: “Freedom of speech is one of the most important basic human rights. Such a sad day. Still sad, still angry. #PussyRiot”.
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