Russia Assigns Bodyguards to Judge Ahead of Verdict in Pussy Riot Trial


Andrew Roth and Robert Mackey
NY Times
August 16, 2012

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Russian authorities announced on Thursday that bodyguards have been assigned to protect the judge presiding over the trial of three members of the all-female protest band Pussy Riot, after unspecified threats. The authorities did not describe the threats to the judge, Marina Syrova, who is expected to announce a verdict and possible jail terms for the women on Friday.

The women have been in jail since March, shortly after the band staged an audacious protest against Russian leader Vladimir Putin inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The group posted a recording of that performance on YouTube, showing five women wearing brightly colored balaclavas, staging an impromptu performance before the alter of the cathedral, punctuated with three cries of, “Holy Mother, send Putin packing!”

The reported threats against the judge underlined the growing prominence of the case, which has attracted international attention, in part because a host of musicians — from Franz Ferdinand to Madonna to Peaches — have denounced the trial as an unwarranted assault on freedom of speech and expression.

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