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Pussy Riot fest held in Russia despite pressure

Pussy Riot (©AP)

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) -- A music festival to support jailed members of the Russian band Pussy Riot went forward despite official pressure to cancel it, organizers said Monday.

Olga Kurnosova said city officials had tried to force her to stop Sunday's show in St. Petersburg -- President Vladimir Putin's hometown -- and firefighters had threatened to close down the GlavClub hall, claiming safety violations ahead of the concert.

About 1,000 people attended the "Free Pussy Riot Fest" headlined by the Russian rock protest bands DDT and Televizor, whose songs have long riled Soviet authorities and Putin's Kremlin.

Bing: Famous Pussy Riot supporters

Last month, three members of Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in jail for a "punk prayer" against Putin in Russia's largest cathedral, in a trial that provoked an international outcry.

On Sunday, DDT frontman Yuri Shevchuk compared the spiraling Kremlin crackdown on political protests to Soviet-era repression of dissidents.

"In 1992, we participated in a festival against political repression," he told the audience. "Twenty years have passed, but it seems almost nothing has changed."

Several younger rock bands and rappers voiced their support for Pussy Riot from the stage Sunday, and some spectators were wearing balaclavas -- the feminist band's trademark headwear.

Dozens of riot policemen surrounded the festival venue and detained four people afterward for alleged jaywalking, Russian media reported.

Proceeds from the show will be donated to Pussy Riot and other activists in jail under Putin, organizers said.

More: Pussy Riot thank celebrities for support in hard-hitting online video

One such activist is Taisiya Osipova, who was sentenced to eight years in prison after supporters say police planted heroin in her home for refusing to testify against her husband, a senior opposition figure.

More than 100 Russian intellectuals, including rock musicians, writers and film stars, signed an open letter to the Kremlin in July saying the Pussy Riot trial would divide Russia. But other Russian celebrities, including pop stars often seen on Kremlin-controlled television networks, have condemned the band's performance as disrespectful to Russia's dominant Orthodox Church.

Pussy Riot grew from a controversial art-protest group based in St. Petersburg. Among the group's most noted acts was the drawing of an enormous phallus on a drawbridge in St. Petersburg, opposite the headquarters of the FSB, or Federal Security Service, the main KGB-successor agency.

Putin, a former KGB spy and FSB head, has compared Pussy Riot's stunt to a "witches' Sabbath."

In a video made public last week, the members of Pussy Riot who have remained free said they were "going on with their musical fight" and burned a portrait of Putin.

29Comments
Sep 11, 2012 8:23AM
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I read they couldn't play a note but  i love their democratic free spirit and free free speech.  Among other things they said Putin was a pig.  He might be, i don't know, I'm not there.
Sep 10, 2012 3:44PM
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"witches Sabbath," Is that the best that this putrid remnant of the "Gulags Era" can come up with?   I thought "witch hunts,"  went out of fashion in the 1600's, but Putin, has managed to revive them! He needs something large and painful "Put-in" his rear end! Like Bob Dylan said in "It's Alright Ma, (I'm Only Bleeding)," "All propaganda is phony"! Free Pussy Riot and JAIL Putin, for human rights abuses!


Sep 10, 2012 3:39PM
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I have been going to Russia for 10 years now and have also been to the Cathedral. I know people go there to pray for many important things. To disrupt that sanctity, you have only shown you have no regard for innocent people and are a danger to society and peacefulness. NOW for a little free speech, your music sucks and your name sucks. How juvenile, you only seek notoriety thru shock drama as with your delinquent trashing of public places. You know NOTHING about Russia history, and the people that made it great. Let's see you were 8-10 years old when I first started coming,I know more about Russia and it's respectable people than you do. In USA  and anywhere, with freedom comes responsibility. You have only brought disrespect to yourselves and anyone who supports you. Shame on you STING!! I still will go to Russia and am glad President Putin did what he had to to hopefully teach you a lesson to find better things to do with your life as many die from starvation and disease if you want a true cause to fight for. Oh and get some music lessons!! Russia deserves better.
Sep 10, 2012 3:33PM
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I have been going to Russia for 10 years now and have also been to the Cathedral. I know people go there to pray for many important things. To disrupt that sanctity, you have only shown you have no regard for innocent people and are a danger to society and peacefulness. NOW for a little free speech, your music sucks and your name sucks. How juvenile, you only seek notoriety thru shock drama as with your delinquent trashing of public places. You know NOTHING about Russia history, and the people that made it great. Let's see you were 8-10 years old when I first started coming,I know more about Russia and it's respectable people than you do. In USA  and anywhere, with freedom comes responsibility. You have only brought disrespect to yourselves and anyone who supports you. Shame on you STING!! I still will go to Russia and am glad President Putin did what he had to to hopefully teach you a lesson to find better things to do with your life as many die from starvation and disease if you want a true cause to fight for. Oh and get some music lessons!! Russia deserves better.
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