Published November 29, 2012
MOSCOW – A Moscow court on Thursday ruled that the video of punk band Pussy Riot's performance in Russia's main cathedral is extremist and ordered it to be removed from the web.
Moscow's Zamoskvoretsky court banned the video of the group's February performance, ordering it and three other videos to be removed from all websites. Prosecutors began looking into the Pussy Riot videos after a conservative member of parliament suggested that they insulted believers.
The band was protesting Vladimir Putin's impending third term as the country's president, which had recently been endorsed by the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Pussy Riot's videos were banned under Russia's vaguely defined "extremism" law, which is supposed to restrict neo-Nazi and terrorist groups. Critics accuse the Kremlin of exploiting the law to stifle opposition and free speech.
Russian courts banned "The Innocence of Muslims," a low-budget movie that portrays Muhammad as a fraud and child molester, in September.
Internet providers will be required to block access to Pussy Riot video in a month if no appeal is filed. Russian web guru Anton Nosik told the Interfax news agency that Russians would doubtless be able to access the video anyway on servers based outside Russia and not subject to the law.
Three members of Pussy Riot were found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred earlier this year. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina were sentenced to two years in jail while Yekaterina Samutsevich was given a suspended sentence.
Putin's critics described the Pussy Riot trial as a political vendetta.
Samutsevich appealed Thursday's court ruling banning the video, but her appeal is unlikely to be heard since the judge had refused to consider her an interested party in the case.