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Free Pussy Riot

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On the altar of the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, five masked women prayed. They prayed for an end to President Vladimir Putin’s rein. They prayed for the virgin to become a feminist.

The February protest aimed to highlight the ties between Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church that put him into power. The words convey the weird tangle of church, culture and state. Scope the full text.

Three women were arrested days after the prayer—five had participated in the minute-long event—and have been held in prison ever since on charges of hooliganism. There was a time when this would have seemed more outrageous to free speech-prizing Americans. But we’ve gotten used to arrests after political protests.

Their trial began yesterday and they could do seven years in prison. Two of the defendants have young kids.

The women’s lawyers say they’ve been deprived of sleep and not fed. And though polls indicate most Russians think seven years in jail is too severe a punishment, they seem to agree Pussy Riot should do some time.

Still, internationally, Putin’s looking ever more the fool.

Musicians like Tobi Vail of Bikini Kill and JD Samson of Le Tigre stood in solidarity with Pussy Riot from the start. Hannah Lew of Grass Widow wrote that she feels spoiled as an American musician, and U.S. performers should be inspired to engage in nonviolent protest.

Madonna, Sting, Peter Gabriel and the Red Hot Chili Peppers jumped on the bandwagon today, too, showing support for Pussy Riot.

Freepussyriot.org is keeping track of the collective’s allies.

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