NEW YORK — Six people were arrested Friday in New York while protesting the jailing in Russia of the Pussy Riot anti-Kremlin punk band.
The protest by about 30 people, several wearing Pussy Riot's signature bright-colored balaclavas, was the latest in a wave of demonstrations around the world supporting the punk rockers sentenced earlier by a Moscow court to two years behind bars.
US-based sympathizers gathered outside the Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox church and the nearby Russian consulate to sing punk songs and wave placards critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the powerful Russian church, which has close links to the Kremlin.
"Unholy Trinity," one placard read, listing Putin, the judge who presided over the rockers' trial in Moscow, and the Orthodox Church's Patriarch Kirill.
"I'm here to express my outrage and to spread the word to people who don't know what's going on," said Russian-American Xenia Grubstein, 31, wearing a purple balaclava.
The peaceful protest ran into a heavy police presence outside the Russian consulate and at least six people were arrested for blocking traffic or, under an obscure New York law, for wearing face masks, an AFP reporter said.
"We're not here to fight. We're here to peacefully express ourselves about what's wrong," Russian-American protest singer Ellina Graypel, 40, said as police ordered her to move away from the sidewalk outside the consulate.
Most at the protest appeared to be non-Russians, including Sarah Soller, who came in a green day-glo balaclava and said she belonged to a lesbian punk band called Tin Vulva.
"I'm here because I'm in a punk rock band and we're not being jailed for our views. I find it ridiculous," Soller, 27, said.
The Pussy Riot trio were convicted of hooliganism for a February 21 stunt in which they went up to the altar in Moscow's biggest cathedral and sang a punk song calling on the Virgin Mary to "drive out Putin."
The authorities and some churchgoers said the women had desecrated a holy place and shown disrespect toward society.
However, critics say the incident exposed the extent of Putin's repression of dissent more than a decade after the career KGB agent came to power.
In addition to New York, protesters gathered in Barcelona, Brussels, Kiev, London, Paris and Sofia.
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