Russian Court: 'Extremist' Pussy Riot Online Videos Must Be Blocked

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MOSCOW – On Nov. 29, a Moscow court ruled that videos of Pussy Riot’s performances, including the “punk prayer” at the city’s Christ the Savior Cathedral last February, are “extremist” and must not be accessed online in Russia.

The court’s ruling applies to four videos that have been circulating on the Internet over the last year. In addition to the video of the “punk prayer,” for which two Pussy Riot members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, are serving two-year sentences, the videos of the band’s illegal performances on Red Square, on the roof of a trolley-bus and at fashion shows and expensive boutiques, were also ruled “extremist.”

Under Russian law, all “extremist” online content has to be deleted, and the prosecutor’s office, which initiated the case, is to send requests about deleting the videos to the country’s most popular video services, YouTube and the local service RuTube. Under the country’s administrative code, possession and distribution of “extremist materials” is punishable by a fine between 1,000 rubles ($32) and 3,000 rubles ($97) or 15 days in jail for individuals and by a fine of up to 100,000 ($3,220) for companies. Meanwhile, in the past, internet providers have willingly blocked access to content that has been ruled “extremist.”

The Russian Orthodox Church has welcomed the court’s decision. “[The videos] are disgusting,” priest Vladimir Viglyansky was quoted as saying by the online magazine LifeNews. “My normal human desire is that they didn’t exist.”

Yekaterina Samutsevich, a Pussy Riot member whose prison term was replaced with a suspended sentence last month, said she will appeal against the court’s decision, the online newspaper Gazeta.ru reported.

Earlier, Samutsevich stated that she was willing to testify at the hearing into the Pussy Riot videos, but the court refused to hear her testimony.

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