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Pussy Riot supporters vent anger on Twitter

Pussy Riot supporters took to Twitter to vent their anger against the band's two-year sentence.

Story highlights

  • Pussy Riot's two-year sentence sparks anger on Twitter and Facebook
  • Celebrity campaigners share messages of support, photos, news updates
  • Ukraine feminist group, Femen, arrested after chainsawing monument in show of solidarity
  • Russian opposition leader Gary Kasparov supposedly assaulted by police outside Moscow court

As three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot appeared in a Moscow court charged with hooliganism, the Twittersphere lit up with pictures and messages of support from around the world.

Pussy Riot band members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, were sentenced to two years in prison after performing a song criticizing President Vladimir Putin inside Moscow's Christ Savior Cathedral in February.

"Mother Mary please drive Putin away," the band had screamed during the offending gig, their faces covered in the neon masks which have now become synonymous with their campaign.

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Celebrity supporters including Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, actress and model Bianca Jagger and Robert Smith of The Cure, tweeted their disgust with the charges, calling for greater freedom of speech in the country.

"I hope you can stay strong and believe that I, and many others like me who believe in free speech will do everything in our power to support you and the idea of artistic freedom," Paul McCartney posted on Twitter.

    Actress Mischa Barton tweeted: "I can't believe sentencing #pussyriot to2 yrs in jail.as someone who lived in Moscow and has filmed& seen inside the jails my heart goes out."

    While the young women awaited their fate in Moscow, balaclava-clad campaigners gathered outside Russian embassies across Europe and the U.S., sharing their photos across social media.

    "#PussyRiot supporters outside London embassy shout 'Shame' and 'Putin scum' as they hear of guilty verdict," Moscow news channel RT London Bureau tweeted.

    Amnesty UK urged its Twitter followers to join the demonstrations, posting: "2 years in jail. #PussyRiot sentence is a bitter blow for freedom of expression in Russia."

    Outside the court in Moscow however, not everyone was backing the Pussy Riot cause, with civil activist Oleg Kozlovsky tweeting: "Some anti- #PussyRiot demonstrators were heard chanting "Burn the witches!" Hello Russia, this is 21st century."

    In Kiev, members of the feminist activist group Femen reportedly used a chainsaw to cut down an orthodox cross which had been erected in memory of victims of political repression.

    The feminist group is best known for demonstrating topless and revealed on Facebook they had also been charged for taking a chainsaw to the Ukraine Independence Monument, saying: "FEMEN says if russian activists will be sentenced to prison terms, FEMEN will show their chainsaw for Putin and Gundyaev."

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    Russian opposition leader and former world chess champion Gary Kasparov was also reportedly arrested after attending demonstrations outside the court in Moscow.

    Photos of him supposedly being assaulted by police were quickly posted on Twitter.

    "He was not there to protest, simply to attend, and the police cornered him and dragged him into the police van," Kasparov's assistants posted on his Facebook wall.

    "He was beaten but says he is okay. He isn't sure what will happen next. It seems the police are waiting for orders from above. He says he was standing calmly speaking with journalists when police pushed through and grabbed him."

    As the three young women sat in a glass cage awaiting their sentence, a rolling stream of messages of support continued to flood Twitter.

    Campaigners shared the locations of demonstrations, photos and news updates. As one young journalist and supporter Jessica Haworth tweeted: "Freedom of speech is one of the most important basic human rights. Such a sad day. Still sad, still angry. #PussyRiot".

      Pussy Riot trial

    • A judge blasts three members of Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot for performing a song critical of Vladimir Putin in a Moscow church.
    • Pussy Riot supporters took to Twitter to vent their anger against the band's two-year sentence.

      The Twittersphere lit up with pictures and messages of support from around the world after three band members were jailed for "hooliganism."
    • Supporters stand near the street holding a sign as embers of the band 'Brenda' perform in a dirt lot across the street from the Russian Embassy in Washington on August 10, 2012 in a solidarity concert for the Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot. Three members of the female band Pussy Riot are currently on trial in Russia and face a three-year sentence with the possibility of hard labor for performing a protest song in a Moscow cathedral last February. AFP PHOTO/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GettyImages)

      Tents, food trucks, art work and posters with "Free Pussy Riot" covered bus stops and real estate board during a concert in D.C. in support of the arrested Russian band.
    • Russian President Vladimir Putin asks a court to show leniency for three members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot charged with hooliganism.
    • Members of the all-girl punk band 'Pussy Riot' Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L), Maria Alyokhina (R) and Yekaterina Samutsevich (C), sit behind bars during a court hearing in Moscow on July 30, 2012. In February, five women walked silently into Moscow's Church of Christ the Saviour before clambering over railings, pulling on balaclavas and yelling out a protest song against Vladimir Putin. The 'punk prayer' by the all-woman group Pussy Riot lasted around a minute. Three women arrested in March over the incident face up to seven years in a prison colony after being charged with hooliganism and have already spent four months awaiting trial . AFP PHOTO / ANDREY SMIRNOV (Photo credit should read ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/GettyImages)

      Music stars including Pete Townshend of The Who, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand and Corinne Bailey Rae called on Russia to free members of the Pussy Riot punk band.
    • Here's a clue: Walk into a cathedral wearing a neon mask, stand on the pulpit and scream songs with lyrics like "Virgin Mary drive Putin away!"