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Pussy Riot verdict: LIVE UPDATES

Published time: August 17, 2012 05:51
Edited time: August 18, 2012 18:10

­19:45 GMT: Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves compared the Pussy Riot trial to witch trials. "Witch trials for blasphemy and visa-free travel defined a common European civilization… in the 13th century," he wrote on his Twitter account. Although he did not mention Pussy Riot specifically, the Estonian press says his statement is about the punk band.

­17:58 GMT: Russian ex-presidential candidate and business tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov says the Pussy Riot verdict demonstrates a neglect of the law and is a strategic mistake by the Russian authorities, Interfax reports.

­17:40 GMT: US President Barack Obama is disappointed by the two-year prison sentence imposed on Pussy Riot, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

­17:10 GMT: Putin has no right to impose his views on the Pussy Riot case on the court, says Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov.

­17:01 GMT: The US State Department expressed concern over the court's decision, urging Russian authorities to reconsider the case.

­16:55 GMT: Riot police have cleared all protesters from the court building.

Image from twitter.com @Vasilevskaya_RT
Image from twitter.com @Vasilevskaya_RT

­16:23 GMT: Pussy Riot supporters continue their demonstration outside the court where earlier today, three members of the group were sentenced to jail terms. Some 100 activists remain at the scene, while police are urging them not to disrupt traffic.

­16:20 GMT: Russia's ex-Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin says the decision on Pussy Riot will cast a shadow on Russia's attractiveness to foreign investors.

­16:15 GMT: Pussy Riot supporters have organized a demonstration in front of the Russian Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, Interfax reports. Many demonstrators are wearing colorful balaclavas like those punk activists were wearing during their “punk prayer” at Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

16:10 GMT: New York police have arrested at least three girls in balaclavas at a pro-Pussy Riot demonstration in front of the Russian Consulate General in New York, an RT editor on the scene reports.

­16:00 GMT: The Union of Orthodox Christian Citizens says that the sentence given to Pussy Riot members is fair, Interfax reports. People can use different means to protect their holy places, but should do so within the bounds of the law, said Union head Valentin Lebedev.

­15:45 GMT: Moscow police detained a female protester who donned a balaclava mask and climbed a pole near the courthouse. Policemen climbed a nearby fence to reach the girl.

A policeman detains a supporter of the female punk band "Pussy Riot" while climbing a fence enclosing the Turkish embassy near a court building in Moscow (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)
A policeman detains a supporter of the female punk band "Pussy Riot" while climbing a fence enclosing the Turkish embassy near a court building in Moscow (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)

­15:40 GMT: The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says the actions of Pussy Riot do not deserve a prison sentence, Interfax reports. “Accusations of hooliganism and inciting religious hatred should not be used for suppressing of the freedom of self-expression,” Dunia Miyatovich of OSCE said.

­15:25 GMT: The Russian Orthodox Church asked authorities to be "merciful" to the convicted members of Pussy Riot. “Not calling into question the lawful decision of the court, we address the state authorities asking to be merciful to the convicted within the boundaries of the law hoping that they will in future refrain from blasphemous actions,” an official church statement said.

­15:20 GMT: Defense lawyers for Pussy Riot say they are ready to come to Strasbourg's European Court of Human Rights to appeal the sentence.

­15:15 GMT: The Foreign Minister of Sweden sharply criticized the Pussy Riot sentence. “Even the Russian Ombudsman finds the jail sentence unjust and calls for an appeal,” Carl Bildt said.

NORWAY, Oslo : Amnesty Norway demonstrates in support of Russian punk band Pussy Riot outside the Russian embassy on August 17, 2012 in Oslo. (AFP Photo / Scanpix Norway / Anette Karlsen)
NORWAY, Oslo : Amnesty Norway demonstrates in support of Russian punk band Pussy Riot outside the Russian embassy on August 17, 2012 in Oslo. (AFP Photo / Scanpix Norway / Anette Karlsen)

­14:58 GMT: EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton is disappointed with the court's decision in the Pussy Riot trial because it is disproportionate, she said on Twitter.

­14:50 GMT: The Presidential Human Rights Council is ready to investigate the Pussy Riot case, and support an appeal if one is filed.

­14:42 GMT: The father of Katya Samutsevich said he did not believe an acquittal was possible, but still held out hope till very last moment, RT`s Lida Vasilevskaya reports from outside the courthouse.

­14:39 GMT: The sentence is illegal, defense lawyer for Pussy Riot Nikolay Polozov says, citing numerous violations during the trial. They are not going to appeal the sentence, but have a right to appeal to the Supreme Court, he says.

­14:30 GMT: Over 50 people have been detained outside of the courthouse, Itar-Tass reports.

­14:28 GMT:  Prominent Russian opposition activist Aleksey Navalny called the sentence a “demonstrative extermination of justice.” He claimed that the motive behind the sentence was the fact that Pussy Riot's actions at the cathedral were political, Interfax reports.

Image from ridus.ru
Image from ridus.ru

­14:20 GMT: The US Embassy in Russia criticized the Pussy Riot verdict on Twitter, calling it disproportionate.

­14:14 GMT: Amnesty International calls the Pussy Riot sentence a "bitter blow to freedom of expression in Russia."


­14:12 GMT: Russian Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin called the sentence unjust, saying Pussy Riot did not commit a crime, just a serious offense.

­14:08 GMT: To restore social justice and to prevent further crimes, the defendants must be punished with a jail sentence, which they will actually serve, the judge said before announcing the sentence.

14:06 GMT: Journalists were allowed into the courtroom. Photographers are taking pictures of the defendants.

­14:00 GMT: The public outside the court building has divided into the supporters of the band, who are shouting and swearing over the court's decision, and opponents, who are holding religious icons and singing prayers.

Image from @Vasilevskaya_RT
Image from @Vasilevskaya_RT

13:58 GMT: The defendants are laughing, while their lawyers are apparently angered by the court's decision.

­13:56 GMT: People in the courtroom are shouting “Shame!”

13:54 GMT: The three members of Pussy Riot are sentenced to two years in jail. The verdict can be appealed within 10 days.

AFP Photo / Natalia Kolesnikova
AFP Photo / Natalia Kolesnikova

­13:52 GMT: The court announces that the character defenses of the defendants, and the fact that none of them have been previously convicted, are extenuating circumstances.

­13:46 GMT: Expert diagnoses revealed that Tolokonnikova has a partial personality disorder, the judge says. Samutsevich was also diagnosed with a minor disorder, but both girls were fully aware of the consequences of their actions. No medical treatment is necessary, the court stated. Alyokhina was not diagnosed with a specific disorder, but was declared to be emotionally unstable.

­13:35 GMT: The court denied another claim by the defense, which said that the defendants' actions cannot be considered as being carried out inside the Orthodox Church cathedral since the Christ the Savior Cathedral never belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church. The court said that the cathedral has all the features of an Orthodox cathedral, and must be viewed as such.

­13:30 GMT: Co-chairs of the RPR-PARNAS political party Mikhail Kasyanov, Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Ryzhkov disavowed the way the Pussy Riot trial was prosecuted, calling it political and showcasing the flaws of Russia's political system, where the authorities fully control the courts, Interfax reports.

­13:25 GMT: The court does not believe the defendants' statements that their actions were not motivated by religious hatred, and the testimony was provided to escape justice, the judge says.

­13:20 GMT: The court does not agree with the defense that there was no motive of religious hatred behind the defendants' actions, the judge announces.

­13:18 GMT: The investigation has not revealed who created the video posted on the Internet, but the information is irrelevant because the defendants were not accused of making the video, the judge says.

­13:12 GMT: The court found the three members of Pussy Riot guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and enmity, but the political charges were not revealed.

­13:10 GMT: The court is recounting the defense's numerous claims of violations during the investigation process.

­13:08 GMT: A policeman who was bitten by Russian politician Gary Kasparov while trying to detain him asked for medical help, Interfax reports. Some 30 protesters have been already arrested outside of the court where the Pussy Riot verdict is being read.

­13:00 GMT: Nine people have been arrested in the southern Russian city of Samara, where some 50 people organized a demonstration in support of Pussy Riot. The participants were carrying colorful balloons covered with balaclavas.

­12:57 GMT: Hundreds of Pussy Riot supporters have gathered in downtown Paris. The demonstrators are holding banners with messages of support for the punk band.

AFP Photo / Lionel Boneventure
AFP Photo / Lionel Boneventure

­12:55 GMT: A demonstration in support of Pussy Riot has taken place in Brussels in front of the Russian Embassy. Some 100 people participated in the event, organized by Amnesty International. Another demonstration is expected to take place after the sentence is announced.

­12:45 GMT: The judge has begun to recount the materials seized from the three defendants during police searches. The items included profane lyrics, as well as videos and photographs indicating their participation in Pussy Riot.

­12:42 GMT: While recounting the testimony of the victims, the judge said that the group's performance recalled attempts during the Soviet era to desecrate churches.

­12:40 GMT: Pussy Riot supporters in the Russian city of Novosibirsk have organized an event in support of the punk band. Some 50 people took part in the protest, which was authorized by local authorities.

­12:37 GMT: Hundreds of Pussy Riot supporters have filled the narrow street where the court is located, chanting “Russia without Putin!” amid heavy police presence, the AP reports.

­12:34 GMT: More arrests are taking place outside the courtroom as tension builds around the sentencing of Pussy Riot, RT's Tom Barton reports from the scene.

­12:28 GMT: The European Commission says it is monitoring the Pussy Riot trial and will offer an official comment after the sentence is announced.

­12:22 GMT: The mother of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, leader of the Pussy Riot, commented for the first time on the trial. “Today's trial is just the beginning of the struggle,” she told the LifeNews website. The 'punk prayer' should be seen as an example of freedom for humanity, she said.

­12:17 GMT: Several hundred protesters are gathered in front of the Russian embassy in Berlin. Protesters, some of them wearing colorful masks, are demanding that the three women be released and chanting slogans in support of Russia's opposition movement.

Reuters/Thomas Peter
Reuters/Thomas Peter
Reuters/Thomas Peter
Reuters/Thomas Peter

­12:15 GMT: The court continues to recount the testimony of the victims.

­12:10 GMT: The Pussy Riot trial has stirred up Russian society, Human Rights Watch says. No other case has ever attracted such public attention or sparked such protest – neither the Khodorkosvky case nor the Magnitsky case, the organization says.

­12:06 GMT: The 'punk protest' sung by seven members of Pussy Riot was blasphemous against the Russian Orthodox Church, the judge says.

­12:03 GMT: The Head of Moscow Helsinki Group says the guilty verdict for Pussy Riot is unjust and politically motivated, but expected.

­11:53 GMT: Russian politician Garry Kasparov is among the protestors detained outside the courthouse, Interfax news agency reports.

Image from @obk
Image from @obk

­11:48 GMT: Pussy Riot supporters outside Russia's London embassy shouted 'Shame' and 'Putin scum' after hearing news of the guilty verdict, RT’s London Bureau reports.

Image from twitter ‏@RTLondonBureau
Image from twitter ‏@RTLondonBureau

­11:40 GMT: The court has repeated its guilty verdict for the Pussy Riot protestors. The sequence of events of the protest are being read aloud in court. The rest of the verdict is still forthcoming.

11:30 GMT: The court is now reading the opinion of Pussy Riot that their action was motivated by ideas, not religious hatred, and that their conduct in church does not deserve such severe consequences.

Members of the all-girl punk band "Pussy Riot" Ekaterina Samutsevich (L), Maria Alyokhina (C) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (R) sit in a glass-walled cage during a court hearing in Moscow on Agust 17, 2012.(AFP Photo / Natalia Kolesnikova)
Members of the all-girl punk band "Pussy Riot" Ekaterina Samutsevich (L), Maria Alyokhina (C) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (R) sit in a glass-walled cage during a court hearing in Moscow on Agust 17, 2012.(AFP Photo / Natalia Kolesnikova)

11:25 GMT: The girls of Pussy Riot are guilty, and “deeply insulted the faith of believers with their disrespectful criminal act…” The verdict still being announced.

­10:58 GMT: The three women of Pussy Riot and their defense team await the verdict.

­10:45 GMT: Statues around Moscow have been decorated with colorful balaclavas by Pussy Riot supporters. Following statues of Pushkin and his wife Goncharova, the sculpture of the famous scientist Lomonosov at the Moscow State University School of Journalism has been hooded as well. Photographs of the statutes in masks can be seen in an online gallery entitled 'balaclavagrad.'

­10:42 GMT: Feminist activist group FEMEN, responsible for cutting down a public cross in central Kiev and several protests around the world, issued another statement in support of Pussy Riot:  "On the day of the sentencing, the FEMEN women's movement expresses its support and respect for its Russian colleagues from the group Pussy Riot. FEMEN activists have taken down a cross in solidarity with the victims of the Kremlin-Pope regime.”

­10:38 GMT: Russian opposition leaders Aleksey Navalny and Sergey Udaltsov arrived at Khamovnichesky court in anticipation of the verdict. Udaltsov was detained by Moscow police when he tried to pass the police cordon and reach the judge.

Image from @Vasilevskaya_RT
Image from @Vasilevskaya_RT

10:30 GMT: The defense attorney for the detained members of Pussy Riot made a statement expressing hope that the girls will be released. “We as lawyers, the defenders of human rights, are waiting for their acquittal, but so far everything we have seen tells that the authorities are not planning on being merciful and the sentence will be harsh, possibly including real jail time,” defense lawyer Violetta Volkova said to journalists outside the courthouse. The lawyers “of the accused to this day believe in the law,” she said.

­10:01 GMT: Pussy Riot supporters are gathering outside the Russian embassy in London ahead of the verdict,  RT’s London Bureau reports.

Image from @RTLondonBureau
Image from @RTLondonBureau

­9:40 GMT: 15-meter high graffiti in support of Pussy Riot has appeared on the wall of a church in the Russian city of Pskov. The phrases “Down with dark age mentality” and “Respect to Pussy Riot” were written overnight and discovered Friday morning, Russian news agency Interfax reports.



­9:26 GMT: Police are towing vehicles parked near the courthouse.

­9:20 GMT: Police say they are keeping the groups of demonstrators separated. Two individuals have been taken into custody so far.

Image from Twitter/@PeterGOliver_RT
Image from Twitter/@PeterGOliver_RT

­9:17 GMT:  The LDPR claims their presence here has nothing to do with Pussy Riot, RT’s Peter Oliver reports from the protests outside the courthouse.

Image from Twitter/@PeterGOliver_RT
Image from Twitter/@PeterGOliver_RT

­9:10 GMT: Activists from Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) have organized a picket line in defense of the Russian Orthodox Church at the courthouse where the Pussy Riot case is to be decided today. Security was elevated as LDPR activists held signs that read “Hands off the Russian Orthodox Church” and “Don’t soil the Saints with filth.”

­09:02 GMT: RT.com is back online following a massive DDoS attack, but we're still experiencing some technical difficulties. AntiLeaks has claimed responsibility for the attack, the same group responsible for downing WikiLeaks & Bambuser.

Screenshot from Twitter.com
Screenshot from Twitter.com

­8:35 GMT: Protesters attached a banner with slogans supporting Pussy Riot to the pedestal of the Tatischev monument in Yekaterinburg.

RIA Novosti/Anton Butsenko
RIA Novosti/Anton Butsenko

­8:30 GMT: Six members of the international women’s rights group FEMEN have been detained for protesting outside the Russian consulate in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The protest lasted for about 10 minutes, during which time the women shouted at the consulate in Russian, demanding the release of the members of Pussy Riot.

­8:25 GMT: The three members of Pussy Riot have arrived at court for sentencing.

Reuters/Tatyana Makeyeva
Reuters/Tatyana Makeyeva

­8:20 GMT: Activists belonging to feminist group FEMEN have taken a chainsaw to a cross in Kiev, Ukraine, in support of Pussy Riot. The felled cross was in a park near Independence Square in the center of the city. “This act of the FEMEN group calls on all forces of society to mercilessly cut down all rotten religious prejudices from our minds that only serve as the foundation of dictatorships and impede the development of democracy and the freedom of women,” the group said.

Reuters/Anatolii Stepanov
Reuters/Anatolii Stepanov

­8:12 GMT: In a poll released by the Levada Center, 44 per cent of Russians believe that the trial of Pussy Riot is “being conducted fairly, objectively, and impartially,” Russian daily Kommersant reports. Another 17 per cent do not believe the trial is being conducted fairly, and 18 per cent believe that the punishment will be harsher than deserved, the poll says.  Of those questioned, 25 percent believe the reason for the delays in the judicial process were either “personal revenge of the Patriarch and the president” or “the desire of those in power to frighten the opposition.” Six per cent believe the process is being driven by Patriarch Kirill, and eight per cent say the Putin administration is behind the trial.

­08:00 GMT: RT’s website is under DDoS attack, our hosting provider confirmed.

­7:55 GMT:  RT’s Peter Oliver is reporting from the courthouse protests. He saw a protester wearing a shirt that read 'WE ARE ALL Pussy Riot…17.08.12 at 14:00.'

‎‏Image from @Vasilevskaya_RT
‎‏Image from @Vasilevskaya_RT

­7:50 GMT: Pussy Riot supporters in Bulgaria have struck. A monument in honor of Red Army Soldiers was found adorned with colorful fabric stockings resembling the Pussy Riot balaclavas on Friday, Russian Itar-Tass news agency reports. The monument was not defaced in any other way.

­7:35 GMT: Police have cordoned off Rostovsky Pereulok number 7, the street where the courthouse is located and the site of planned protests. Residents are having trouble entering their homes due to the police blockade.

Image from Twitter/@PeterGOliver_RT
Image from Twitter/@PeterGOliver_RT

­7:33 GMT: Protestors have begun gathering outside of Moscow's Khamovnichesky Court in anticipation of the verdict.

Image from Twitter/@PeterGOliver_RT
Image from Twitter/@PeterGOliver_RT

­7:28 GMT: Pussy Riot protests are underway in Sydney, Australia. Demonstrators have set up an installation on Oxford Street in support of the punk group.

Image from Twitter/@_Irko_
Image from Twitter/@_Irko_

­7:23 GMT: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot says that she does not regret her actions in Christ the Savior Cathedral. “No, of course not. We’re happy that we unexpectedly became the epicenter of such a large political event in which so many different forces are in play,” Tolokonnikova said in an interview with Russian news magazine Novaya Gazeta. “I don’t believe in the court’s decision at all”, she added. “There is no court. It is an illusion.”

­7:20 GMT: Amnesty UK tweeted that it has collected over 12,000 signatures in support of Pussy Riot. The group plans to present the list to Russian authorities.

­7:14 GMT: Pussy Riot protestors have left their mark on historic Old Arbat Street in downtown Moscow. The iconic statues of Aleksandr Pushkin and his wife Nadezhda Goncharova were seen wearing Pussy Riot balaclavas on Friday.

Image from Instagram/@feldsparta4
Image from Instagram/@feldsparta4

­7:11 GMT: Around 100 international journalists are gathering at Khamovnichesky Court on Friday to cover the Pussy Riot verdict, Russian Interfax News Agency reports. "We have accredited 72 television and radio companies, both Russian and foreign," court press officer Darya Lakh told Interfax. Those media outlets include journalists from countries as far afield as Japan and Australia. "Seventy-two people are just those reporters who are required to get permission for videoing and photographing. Besides them, there will be journalists from press publications, including newspapers, information agencies, and Internet portals," she said.

­6:50 GMT: The judge presiding over the Pussy Riot case is now under police protection after being stalked by Pussy Riot supporters. Justice Marina Syrova applied for protection after noticing that she was constantly being followed. Mysterious Twitter updates have made public details about her location and physical appearance, as well as her car and license plate number.

­6:42 GMT: The Russian Orthodox Church's Patriarch Kirill is catching heat from Pussy Riot protests in Poland. Several feminist groups in Warsaw have announced a demonstration in front of the Russian embassy on Friday. "We are demanding Russian justice authorities not to impose prison terms and to free the three women. We are demanding Orthodox clergy to respect the principles of love and forgiveness," the protesters announced on Monday.

The Russian Patriarch is on a trip to try and improve relations between The Russian Orthodox and the Catholic Church.

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