Three members of the Russian feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot were found guilty by a Moscow judge of "committing hooliganism driven by religious hatred" today, the Associated Press reported. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were sentenced to two years in prison - they had faced as many as seven - for storming into a Moscow church and imploring the Virgin Mary to protect Russia from Vladimir Putin.
In recent weeks, the trio's trial became a free speech cause celebre among music celebs, including Bjork, Paul McCartney, Sting and the Pet Shop Boys, all of whom issued pro-Pussy Riot statements, and protests and readings like one at the Ace Hotel in New York last night were held all over the world this week.
Amnesty International issued this statement: "Today's verdict is a travesty," said Michelle Ringuette, chief of campaigns and programs for Al USA. "The decision to find guilty Maria, Ekaterina and Nadezhda amid global outrage shows that the Russian authorities will stop at no end to suppress dissent and stifle civil society."