Russia refuses to free anti-Kremlin punk band

Wed Mar 14, 2012 5:25pm EDT
 
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By Alissa de Carbonnel

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Two members of an anti-Kremlin all-girl punk rock band were ordered detained in prison on Wednesday for mounting a protest 'concert' in Moscow's main cathedral, leaping around in brightly colored masks and brandishing a guitar to recorded music.

Pussy Riot's performance, posted on the internet, offended Orthodox believers. The arrest of the two women last month on hooliganism charges ignited a fierce debate over the boundaries of protest and state power. A judge declined a request on Wednesday that they be released on bail and ordered them held until April 24.

Outside the Moscow court house, fans of the feminist rock group wearing pastel colored masks that are the band's trademark scuffled with Russian Orthodox supporters who came to protest against what consider the group's desecration of a place of worship.

Police broke up the fight and arrested three supporters of Pussy Riot, including a member of the underground art collective Voina, and one pro-Orthodox protester.

"You have some chicks who stormed into the capital's main cathedral, and these people think they should be released," a Church supporter who gave only his name only as Alexander said, gesturing to the band's fans.

Pussy Riot, whose members say they draw inspiration from the 1990s U.S. feminist punk groups Riot Grrl and Bikini Kill, are one of the more bizarre groups to emerge at the fore of a nascent protest movement against Vladimir Putin's 12-year rule.

The groups dissident songs and radical performances calling for Putin's ouster including on Red Square have gone viral.

The girls say they perform anonymously in brightly colored balaclavas so anyone can join their protests.   Continued...