A political ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking legal action against American pop star Lady Gaga for promoting gay rights to minors during a concert on Sunday.
Vitaly Milonov, a member of the ruling United Russia party in the St Petersburg assembly and the architect of a city law that bans gay “propaganda”, accused the singer of breaking the law at the beginning of her show.
“We saw that in addition to music, songs and such, there were direct calls for 12-year-old citizens to support the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community,” Milonov said, adding that he would file a complaint to prosecutors over the singer’s actions.
He had unsuccessfully called on authorities to bar people under 18 from attending Lady Gaga’s show.
Pirated CDs and DVDs seen through the hole of a CD during a campaign against piracy in Algiers October 15, 2012. Over one million pirated movie, music and software CDs and DVDs seized in recent police operations were destroyed in a campaign organised by the government. [REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina]
Russia denounced foreign criticism of the trial of punk band Pussy Riot as politically motivated on Wednesday and said there were “elements of a clash of civilizations” in Western condemnation.
Three members of the band were sentenced to two years’ jail last week for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” when they performed a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s main cathedral, calling on the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of President Vladimir Putin.
Western governments have said the sentences handed down to Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, were disproportionate. Rights groups and musicians have called for their release.
Critics of Putin, who returned to the presidency for a third term on May 7 after a four-year spell as prime minister, say the Pussy Riot case illustrated his lack of tolerance of dissent.
The website of a Moscow court that convicted three members of punk band Pussy Riot to two years in jail each for belting out a profanity-laced anti-Kremlin song inside a cathedral was hacked on Tuesday.
A slogan denouncing President Vladimir Putin was posted on the site as was an appeal for the trio’s release along with a video clip of one of the band’s latest anti-Putin songs and a clip by Bulgarian singer Azis, local media reported.
The hack attack - claimed by AnonymousRussia, which says it is affiliated with hacking activist group Anonymous - comes amid a chorus of criticism of the sentences, which Western governments and singers said were disproportionate and opponents of Putin called part of a crackdown on dissent.
A screenshot posted by opposition activist Ilya Yashin on Twitter showed the court’s web page topped by an inscription reading: “Putin’s thieving gang is plundering our country! Wake up, comrades!”
Another caption called for the release of the band’s jailed members - Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Marina Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30.
The site of Moscow’s Khamovniki district court hamovnichesky.msk.sudrf.ru/ was operating normally by noon (0800 GMT) but its hacked version was on display for several hours on Tuesday morning.
Darya Lyakh, a spokeswoman for the court, said a department of the Supreme Court had asked federal investigators to look into the hacking attack.
A judge sentenced three members of Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot to two years jail on Friday for staging a protest against President Vladimir Putin in a church, an act the judge called “blasphemous.”
Judge Marina Syrova found the women guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, describing them as blasphemers who had deliberately offended Russian Orthodox believers by storming the altar of Moscow’s main cathedral in February to belt out a song deriding Putin.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Marina Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, stood watching in handcuffs in a glass courtroom cage.
The women say they were protesting against Putin’s close ties with the church when they burst onto the altar in Moscow’s golden domed Christ the Saviour Cathedral wearing bright ski masks, tights and short skirts. State prosecutors had requested a three-year jail term.
“Tolokonnikova, Samutsevich and Alyokhina committed an act of hooliganism, a gross violation of public order showing obvious disrespect for society,” the judge said.
“The girls’ actions were sacrilegious, blasphemous and broke the church’s rules.”
FLASH: Russian judge sentences Pussy Riot defendants Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina to two years in prison. More soon on Reuters.com.
Many of Iraq’s most talented musicians fled during the rule of Saddam Hussein, fearing persecution for their political views and suffering from a lack of funding and exposure if they refused to glorify the leader in their art.
Others left after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, escaping violence as war broke out. Concert venues were shuttered. Some musicians were threatened by the Iraqi arm of al Qaeda.
Now, gingerly, some musicians are making plans to come back, hoping to revive Iraq’s rich musical tradition on home soil.
“It does not seem strange now. They call me, they send me messages, they ask me what I have seen,” renowned oud player Naseer Shamma said after a concert in Baghdad, his second in the country after nearly two decades in exile.
“And I say yes, now it is time to work, to help the Iraqi people. Of course every Iraqi musician needs to be here.”