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Pussy Riot Band Members, Including Two Moms, Sentenced to Prison

Activist parents sometimes have to make hard choices. How far would you go to illustrate compromised freedom, to push for a revolution you saw as necessary, while responsible for young children?

Three women from the Russian punk band Pussy Riot have been found guilty of “hooliganism” for staging a Riot Grrrl style protest in an Orthodox Church. The protest against Vladimir Putin consisted of them singing a song for a minute before being escorted out.

The horribly oppressive trial and ordeal (including six-months in jail under reported harsh conditions) continues with a 2-year prison sentence for each handed down today.

Two of the three sentenced women are mothers. From Wikipedia:

  • Maria Alyokhina, a fourth year student at the Institute of Journalism and Creative Writing in Moscow, has a history as a humanitarian volunteer and environmental activist with Greenpeace Russia. She is 24 and has one young child. She played an active role in the trial: cross-examining witnesses and aggressively questioning the nature of the charges and proceeding.
  • Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, is a computer programmer interested in LGBT issues. She is a graduate of the Rodchenko School of Photography and Multimedia in Moscow. Court sessions were attended by her grandfather Stanislav Samutsevich.
  • Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, is a philosophy student at Moscow State University with a history of political activism with the street-art group Voina. She is married to Pyotr Verzilov and has a 4-year-old daughter.

Their risks and sacrifices are like nothing I’ve had to make in the name of freedom, feminism or LGBT rights. Two-and-a-half years in prison? Leaving families (including toddlers), school, careers? It’s brave and untenable. I’m horrified, though the very fact of their sentence points to the import of their activism.

If you think there is no way this could ever happen in America, read some of the comments in newspaper articles and on Facebook praising Russian’s persecution of feminists as godless heathens. Seriously frightening. On second thought, don’t read them. It’s too disheartening.

I’m standing with Nadezhda, Yekaterina and Maria and am amazed at the way they have catalyzed world attention towards the necessity of pushing back against affronts to freedom. One way to support them is through a campaign at Amnesty International. What do you think?

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