NewsWorld
RUSSIA

Pussy Riot fugitives 'forced to skip Russia' after anti-Putin altar protest

Pair sought by police over anti-Putin protest 'recruiting overseas' amid persecution fears

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 August, 2012, 6:11am
 

Two members of anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot have fled the country to avoid prosecution for staging a protest against President Vladimir Putin at a church altar, the band said yesterday.

A Moscow court sentenced three members of the all-female opposition band to two years in prison on August 17 for staging a "punk prayer" at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in February and calling on the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin.

The sentence drew sharp international criticism of the Russian government, while opposition groups have portrayed it as part of a Kremlin clampdown.

Police said this week that they were searching for other members of the band.

"In regard to the pursuit, two of our members have successfully fled the country! They are recruiting foreign feminists to prepare new actions!" Pussy Riot Group tweeted.

Defence lawyers for the convicted Pussy Riot members - Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich - are expected to appeal against their sentences next week.

Tolokonnikova's husband, Pyotr Verzilov, said yesterday the two members who fled Russia had taken part in the cathedral protest along with his wife.

"Since the Moscow police said they are searching for them, they will keep a low profile for now. They are in a safe place beyond the reach of the Russian police," he said by phone.

Asked if he meant a country that has no extradition agreement with Russia, Verzilov said: "Yes, that suggests that.

"But you must remember that 12 or even 14 members who are still in Russia actively participate in the band's work now, it's a big collective," he added.

The Kremlin has dismissed criticism by Western governments and prominent musicians including Madonna and Sting as politically motivated.

Putin, back at the Kremlin since May for his third presidential term, said before the three band members were sentenced that they should not be judged too harshly.

Share

 

Send to a friend

To forward this article using your default email client (e.g. Outlook), click here.

Enter multiple addresses separated by commas(,)

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive