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Pussy Riot band members on hunger strike after arrest

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Julie Tomlin
WVoN co-editor

Two members of the Russian punk phenomenon Pussy Riot have gone on hunger strike after being arrested for performing an anti-Putin “prayer” in a Central Moscow cathedral.

Several women were arrested after the all-women band ran into the Christ the Savior Cathedral wearing mini-dresses and masks on 21 February and performed a song entitled “Holy Shit”.

The “punk prayer” included an appeal to the “Holy Mother, Blessed Virgin” to “chase” president Vladimir Putin out. A video of the performance was posted on the band’s Youtube channel.

Only two alleged band members – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhin – have been held in custody and charged with hooliganism.

Both of the women have children and are refusing food after they were were remanded in custody for two months by a Moscow court.

Supporters of the band picketed police headquarters in support of the women on International Women’s Day.

If found guilty of the charges, the women could face sentences of up to seven years in prison.

Part of the growing protest movement against Vladimir Putin, the masked band has become notorious for its provocative “guerrilla” performances over the course of the recent presidential election campaign.

In January members of the band were arrested and fined after a spontaneous performance of one of their songs “Putin is peeing his pants” in Moscow’s Red Square.

Describing themselves as “activists of the opposition movement, dealing with the problems of feminism, ecology, as well as rights for the L.G.B.T. movement,”  the band is reported as saying its name was  “inspired by the famous punk-feminist movement called Riot Grrrl which was active in America in 1990s”.

The band explained the idea behind their Cathedral performance on their blog:

“Seeing as peaceful demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of people are not producing an immediate result, before Easter we will be asking the Blessed Virgin Mother to get rid of Putin more quickly”.

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