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Pussy Riot: Madonna, Stalin, and Aleksei Navalny

Madonna supports Pussy Riot in Moscow, the Pussy Riot trial is compared to Stalinist repression, and the Investigative Committee goes after anti-corruption blogger Aleksei Navalny.

The trial of the Russian dissident punk band Pussy Riot, accused of hooliganism motivated by religious hate, continues to attract international attention. 

In a recent show of solidarity, Madonna told fans at Moscow’s Olimpiysky Stadium:

“I know there are many sides of this story and I mean no disrespect to the church or the government, but I think that these three girls — [Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich] — I think they have done something courageous, I think they have paid the price for this act and I pray for their freedom.” 

Three members of the band Pussy Riot are currently on trial after their band performed an anti-Putin song in the Church of Christ the Savior in Moscow last February.

Nadezhda said in court today the trial's proceedings were “a political order for repression [that met] the standards of Stalinist troikas,” in other words, Stalinist repression, according to the Khaleej Times.

Alyokhina, in her statement to the court, said "I am not afraid of your poorly concealed fraud of a verdict in this so-called court because it can deprive me of my freedom," she said, according to Reuters. "No one will take my inner freedom away."

Defense lawyer Violetta Volkova said the three women were on trial "for their political beliefs,” according to the Moscow Times.  

While Pussy Riot's trial holds the world's attention, it's worth redirecting that limelight onto some relevant story lines.

Russian Parliament has passed harsh legislation that could serve as ammunition against western NGOs, activists, bloggers and dissidents, the New York Times reported

The Investigative Committee, the government's investigative tool for dissidents, has opened criminal cases against the anti-corruption blogger Aleksei Navalny.

Meanwhile, 13 anti-Putin demonstrators are charged with hooliganism, as Pussy Riot is. Those protesters face a maximum sentence of ten years, if convicted, the New York Times reported

Pussy Riot's verdict is expected on Aug. 17.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/120808/pussy-riot-madonna-stalin-and-aleksei-navalny