Pussy Riot fest held in Russia despite pressure

Associated Press Modified: September 10, 2012 at 5:45 am •  Published: September 10, 2012
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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 Glavklub 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.

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.