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'We are all hooligans': Protests for Pussy Riot

Associated Press Modified: August 17, 2012 at 12:47 pm •  Published: August 17, 2012
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PARIS (AP) — Supporters of the punk rock band Pussy Riot bared their breasts, covered their faces with ski masks and cross-dressed Friday in a series of raucous protests that stretched from New York to Copenhagen to denounce the musicians' conviction in a Russian court.

In a Paris square, supporters followed the trial by phone and shouted in unison with protesters in Moscow. In Kiev, Ukraine, four women, one who was topless, used a chainsaw to cut down a cross. And in cities across Europe and the U.S., young people donned the neon-colored balaclavas that have become symbols of the band.

The three women, who have been in jail for more than five months because of a guerrilla performance denouncing President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main cathedral, were convicted on charges of hooliganism driven by religious hatred and each sentenced to two years in prison.

The trial has been seen as a symbol of Russia's intolerance of dissent, especially under the reign of Putin, and a series of colorful and raucous protests have attracted worldwide attention to the feminist rockers' fate. Celebrities including Paul McCartney, Madonna and Bjork have called for the band members to be freed.

Governments including the United States, Britain, France and Germany joined the chorus Friday, denouncing the sentences as disproportionate.

But Friday's demonstrations — none of which attracted more than a few hundred people — seemed unlikely to gain the momentum needed to exert any real pressure on Russia's government.

Still, one protester in Berlin who used to be an East German dissident underscored the importance of continuing even seemingly futile calls for changes.

"I remember the times when we were in opposition ... the signs from other countries were very, very important," said Marianne Birthler, who also served as head of a post-reunification commission that investigated the East German intelligence service. "So we knew what we are doing is recognized and there are people who are willing to support us and who follow what happens to us. That's the reason we are here now."

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