Pussy Riot Member Sentenced to Six Years in Prison in Absentia for Speaking Out Against Russian Armed Forces

Member of Pussy Riot sentenced to six years in prison in Russia for spreading misinformation about the Ukraine conflict.

Russian authorities have sentenced Pussy Riot member Liudmila Stein to six years in prison in absentia for spreading false information about the Russian Armed Forces. The Prosecutor’s Office had requested an eight-year sentence with a four-year internet ban. Stein, who is abroad and wanted by Russia since May 2022, was accused of publicly disseminating deliberately false information about the armed forces, a crime punishable by up to ten years in prison.

The charges were based on a tweet she posted in March 2022 commenting on a video of Ukrainian soldiers shooting at Russian prisoners of war. Stein had previously been sentenced to one year of restricted freedom for violating sanitary regulations during a demonstration in support of opposition leader Alexi Navalny. She later cut off her electronic ankle bracelet as ordered by the court and left Russia, receiving a fine in absentia for discrediting the Armed Forces. The court stated that Stein, a former Moscow municipal deputy, would serve her sentence once extradited to Russia.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, over 19,855 people have been detained in Russia for expressing anti-war views. Pussy Riot, known for their opposition activism, gained notoriety in 2012 when they famously staged an unauthorized protest inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Saint Basil the Great wearing provocative outfits and holding signs with slogans such as “Putin Must Go!” They faced harsh criticism from authorities and were ultimately jailed for two years before being released on parole after serving nine months each.

In recent years, Pussy Riot has continued their activism both domestically and internationally. After fleeing house arrest in Moscow with her girlfriend Maria Alyokhina, Stein eventually settled in Iceland where they were granted citizenship in May 2023. However, despite their newfound freedom and status as citizens of Europe’s oldest republic, they remain under constant threat from Russian authorities who continue to target them and other dissidents for speaking out against the government’s actions.

Sophia Reynolds

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