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Russian Court Orders Websites To Remove Videos Of Punk Band Pussy Riot Or Risk Being Blocked
November 29, 2012
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Another move today by authorities in Russia to crackdown on the female punk band 'Pussy Riot'.

A court in Moscow has ruled that websites must remove video clips of the band, including the anti-Kremlin song they performed in the city's main cathedral in February.

Two of the band's members are in prison, after being convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred".

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are serving two year sentences and were recently sent to separate remote prisons far from Moscow.

The "punk prayer" has been viewed more than two million times on YouTube. In the video, the band wears ski masks and calls on the Virgin Mary to "throw Putin out".

Here's the video with English translation (a warning about language).

They say they were protesting President Vladimir Putin's close ties with the Orthodox Church, which is highly influential in Russia.

In her ruling, the judge said the video was "extremist." That means it will be put on a blacklist that's kept by Russia's ministry of justice.

The judge made specific reference to "words and actions which humiliate various social groups based on their religion."

The judge said she based her ruling on conclusions by a panel of experts who studied the footage.

She also said any websites that don't take down the clips may be blocked. The ban will only apply once the ruling takes effect. It's not clear when that will be.

The court also didn't say if it was banning all of Pussy Riot's clips, which include a song mocking Putin that was performed in Red Square.

A spokesperson for Google Russia said YouTube won't decide anything until it receives official documents.

Pavel Chikov, who represents a number of Russian human rights groups, condemned the ruling.

"The judge put the group's clips, with their dancing and signing, on the same level as Islamist videos calling for murder," he told the Russian news site gazeta.ru.

A senior official with the Russian Orthodox Church, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, was pleased with the court's decision.

"Many similar texts and video content have already been included on the federal list of extremist materials, and it is quite appropriate that this video clip be included on the list, I think," he said.

Related stories

Two Members Of Russian Band Pussy Riot Reportedly Sent To Remote Soviet Era Prison Camps Far From Moscow

Russian Band Pussy Riot Convicted Of Hooliganism, Gets Two Years In Prison

Activists In Russia Say New Laws That Ban 'Homosexual Propaganda' Are Fuelling Attacks Against Gays

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