Pussy Riot found guilty

Russian band found guilty of hooliganism.

The members of Pussy Riot. Photograph: Getty Images

Russian punk band Pussy Riot have been found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

The three women - Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda (Nadia) Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samutsevitch  - were arrested in March after protesing at Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, where they  sung an anti-Putin "prayer". They have been held in prison since then, and now face up to seven years in jail.

The "religious hatred" aspect of the verdict might surprise Westerners: here's an extract of an earlier piece on the trial from one of our bloggers Nelson Jones:  

Western reporting has downplayed the sacrilegious nature of the women's performance, seeing it primarily as a political stunt. Perhaps it was. But it was also genuinely shocking in a religious culture that still retains (unlike much Western Christianity) a sense of the numinous and of sacred space. Russian Orthodoxy is a religion rooted in experience rather than doctrine. Its founding myth concerns a delegation sent by Prince Vladimir of Kiev to Constantinople which returned awestruck by the beauties of the Byzantine church: "We knew not whether we were on earth or in heaven." Ever since, Russian Orthodox churches and services, with their icons, clouds of incense and intense, deep-voiced choruses, have represented an attempt to recreate heaven on earth.

Kirill's spokesman, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, has compared Pussy Riot's action and its effect on believers to the burning of the Koran and said that he was "deeply concerned about the future of any society in which extremely divisive actions are ignored."

More to follow.