By: Leila Brillson
Today, three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot were formally charged with "hooliganism driven by religious hatred."
In February, members of the group staged an impromptu performance inside of Moscow's Christ Savior Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox institution. During the performance, they screamed, "Mother Mary please drive Putin away," before Putin was elected president for the third time. The girls performed and jumping around for about 60 seconds before they were detained, and three girls were arrested: 24-year-old environmentalist and mother Maria Alyokhina, 30-year-old computer programmer and LGBT activist Yekaterina Samutsevich, and 22-year-old philosophy student, artist, and mother Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.
The reaction to the performance, plus the swift and strict seven-year-sentence the girls were facing (it appears that they will only serve two) emphasizes the closeness of church and state in Russia, plus the religious leanings of the court. The prosecution claimed their dances were "devilish," and critics note that the group attacked two of Russia's most prominent pillars: The Church and The Kremlin.