The sentence has come down for Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, members of the punk band 'Pussy Riot' who were arrested in March after a performance in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour that included some Anti-Putin lyrics. It is probably hard for those used to free speech in nations like the US to understand how serious this crime is there.
The story has gained worldwide attention with protests around the globe, including one in New York City today with an appearance at the Russian Consulate. Apparently, the three women have received harsh treatment while being held for trial and now they will spend two more years in prison, lower than the three years that prosecutors had been asking for, and far lower than the seven years that they could have received. It is doubtful that protests will do any good, but they will certainly keep the band's plight in the public eye.
The girls were convicted of "hooliganism driven by religious hatred" by Judge Marina Syrova. They were handcuffed and kept in a glass cage while the verdict was read, a three-hour ordeal. The prosecution's witnesses accused the trio of "sacrilege" and "devilish dances" in church. Apparently, hooliganism is not only a real crime in Russia, it is severely punished.
Vladimir Putin said that the punk band shouldn't be judged harshly, apparently expecting the sentence to be time already served. However, if a milder sentence had been given, it would seem that Putin was giving in to pressure from the public, something he wants to avoid. He was reelected two weeks after the band's arrest.
Besides the protesting voices around the world, including a statement from Amnesty International, the street outside the courtroom was filled with more protesters, and police to control them. Among those arrested by police was former chess champion Garry Kasparov and another activist leader Sergei Udaltsov.
The three arrested are not the only members of the band 'Pussy Riot'. There are seven in all.