August 21, 2012 12:38

Russian police hunt for more Pussy Riot members

Police search for other members of band after three women were jailed for two years last week

Russian police hunt for more Pussy Riot members

Photo: PA

Russian police have confirmed that they are searching for more members of feminist punk group Pussy Riot, despite international outcry over the two-year jail sentence given to three of its members on Friday (August 17).

A raft of musicians, from Paul McCartney to Madonna and Franz Ferdinand, have condemned the prison sentences given to the three women who were found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after they performed a short "punk prayer" gig at the altar of Moscow’s Christ The Saviour Cathedral in February. They were protesting against the church's support for Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Police have now confirmed that they are searching for other members of the group in connection with the protest, but have not yet identified the suspects, or how many people they are looking for The Guardian reports. "The necessary search operations are being conducted," a Moscow police representative said.

Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, were convicted at Moscow's Khamovnichesky Court on Friday. Large numbers of their supporters, as well as their opponents, had assembled outside the court building. Meanwhile, a protest took place outside the Russian embassy in London, marshalled by members of the Occupy London movement.

Other members of Pussy Riot have said they will continue to demonstrate against Putin, despite the sentence, which has been criticised by the European Union and US government for being too harsh.

In court, Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich said they were protesting against Putin's close ties with the Russian Orthodox church and didn't mean to offend believers. Speaking as the nine-day trial concluded, band member Tolokonnikova said: "This is a trial of the whole government system of Russia, which so likes to show its harshness toward the individual, its indifference to his honour and dignity… If this political system throws itself against three girls… it shows this political system is afraid of truth."

The three women have already been in jail for about five months after their arrest in March, meaning they will serve another 19. They could be freed if Putin were to pardon them.



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