Richard Boudreaux and Alexander Kolyandr
Wall Street Journal
August 17, 2012

photoRussian artist Petr Pavlensky displays his support of the three incarcerated Pussy Riot members by sewing his mouth shut. (Photo: Reuters)

Three members of a once-unheralded feminist group—whose anti-Kremlin protest inside Russia’s main Orthodox cathedral led to one of the most politically charged trials of the country’s post-Soviet era—were convicted of hooliganism Friday and sentenced to two years in prison.

The diminutive provocateurs, in handcuffs, stood in a glass-enclosed pen in a Moscow courtroom as Judge Marina Syrova announced her decision, ratifying what critics of President Vladimir Putin call a growing crackdown on dissent.

The judge said the three young women, members of the Pussy Riot performance-art collective, committed “a grave violation of public order, showing obvious disrespect for society” by performing a “punk prayer” near the cathedral’s altar on Feb. 21.

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