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article imagePussy Riot activist sentenced to community work after FSB protest

By AFP     Dec 21, 2017 in World

A Russian court on Thursday sentenced a member of the Pussy Riot punk band and activist group to 40 hours of community work after she unfurled a protest sign near the Moscow headquarters of the FSB security services.

Maria Alyokhina, 29, staged her protest Wednesday on the steps in front of the FSB headquarters, holding a poster saying "Happy Birthday, executioners."

Her protest came as Russia marked 100 years since the establishment of the Cheka, the Soviet Union's first secret police service, created to stamp out opposition to the Bolshevik Revolution.

A judge with Moscow's Meshchansky district court sentenced Alyokhina, who has a child, to 40 hours of community work, an AFP journalist said.

Alyokhina and other Pussy Riot members were arrested in 2012 on charges of hooliganism after a "punk prayer" performance targeting President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

She and fellow bandmate Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were imprisoned for nearly two years over the protest, which catapulted the group to international fame.

Since then Pussy Riot ceased to exist in its original format as both members became more involved in advocating for prisoners' rights and participating in other arts projects.

The role of the Cheka, known by its acronym VChK, and its successor agencies including the KGB -- the predecessor of the FSB -- was widely denounced during the 1990s.

A statue of the chief of the Soviet Union's first secret police, Felix Dzerzhinsky, near the FSB headquarters was symbolically toppled in 1991.

But since President Vladimir Putin took power in 2000, there has been a growing chorus of Russians who take a positive view of the Soviet past, including the role of the secret police.

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