NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Protesters gathered outside the Russian consulate Saturday to demonstrate against the policies of that country’s government, on the one-year anniversary of the sentencing of three members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot.
The demonstrators gathered Saturday morning at the Russian Consulate at 9 E. 91st St., on the Upper East Side. They included three women who were arrested the same day in New York as they protested in masks in solidarity with the Russian women’s punk art and performance group.
The women – Esther Robinson, Rebekah Schiller, and a woman whose name has not been released — were charged with disorderly conduct and violating a state law that dates back to 1845, which forbids three or more people from wearing masks in public.
Their attorney, Norman Siegel, argued that the anti-mask law is unconstitutional and took up a challenge of the law on the grounds that it violates freedom of expression. Siegel was to make an announcement Saturday about the successful challenge.
The protests supporting Pussy Riot a year ago were sparked when a Moscow judge sentenced three members of the band to two years in prison on charges of hooliganism a year ago Saturday.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23; Maria Alekhina, 24; and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, were arrested in March after a guerrilla performance in Moscow’s main cathedral, high-kicking and dancing while singing a “punk prayer” pleading the Virgin Mary to save Russia from Vladimir Putin, who was elected to a third new term as Russia’s president two weeks later.
Following the ruling, about 40 protesters stood outside the Russian consulate in New York wearing masks, and holding banners that read: “We are all hooligans.”
The demonstrators on Saturday also protested against a crackdown on the gay community in Russia that has caused a worldwide controversy. A recently-passed Russian law bans the so-called “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.”
Signed by President Vladimir Putin in late June, the new series of Russian laws impose hefty fines for providing information about the gay community to minors or holding gay pride rallies. One of them labels publicity with a pro-gay stance as “pornography” when directed at minors.
Putin also signed a law banning foreign same-sex couples from adopting Russian children, CBS Chicago reported.
Foreign citizens arrested under the law can be jailed for 15 days and then deported.
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