July 30 - As the Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot face up to 7 years in prison, they admit to an ethical misdemeanour, but not criminal acts. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
In February of this year, three young women from the punk band Pussy Riot staged a protest against Vladimir Putin on the altar of Russia's main cathedral. They now go on trial in Moscow where they could face as many as seven years in prison. Members of the band say while they may be guilty of a quote "ethical misdemeanor" their actions were not criminal. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) PUSSY RIOT BAND MEMBER NADEZHDA TOLOKONNIKOVA, SAYING: "Today we will give the response to the indictment against us. We've prepared it and have written it. We need to explain why we do not agree, why we do not plead guilty. We will be talking about how we accept our ethical misdemeanor, but an ethical misdemeanor should not be a cause of criminal punishment." Governments and rights groups are watching the trial as a gauge of President Vladimir Putin's tolerance of dissenting voices. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters.