Russian court bans "extremist" Pussy Riot video

Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:51am EST
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By Gleb Bryanski

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian court ruled on Thursday that video footage of the Pussy Riot punk group protesting against President Vladimir Putin in a church was "extremist" and should be removed from websites.

The demonstration last February offended many Russian Orthodox Christians. But Putin has been criticized by U.S. and European leaders over what they saw as disproportionate jail sentences imposed on three Pussy Riot members. Their trial was also seen by Putin's critics as part of a clampdown on dissent.

The Moscow court said it had based its ruling on conclusions by a panel of experts who studied the video, showing band members in colorful mini-skirts and ski masks dancing in front of the altar of Moscow's main Russian Orthodox cathedral.

Judge Marina Musimovich said the footage "has elements of extremism; in particular there are words and actions which humiliate various social groups based on their religion". She said it also had calls for mutiny and "mass disorder".

The verdict said that free distribution of the video could ignite racial and religious hatred.

The court's ruling applies to other videos released by the band, including a performance in Moscow's Red Square, where calls for mass disorder could be heard. Such calls were not made inside the church.

The websites are now likely to be included in a state register and could be blocked if the banned content is not removed.

The Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor said that once the court decision takes effect it will monitor how it is implemented.   Continued...

Members of the female punk band "Pussy Riot" (L-R) Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass-walled cage before a court hearing in Moscow October 10, 2012. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov