Pussy Riot’s Alyokhina Fined For Evading Community Service

MOSCOW — A leading member of the Russian punk protest band Pussy Riot has been fined for evading community service.

A court in Moscow on July 11 ordered Maria Alyokhina to pay a fine of 400,000 rubles ($6,500).

In April, a Moscow court ordered Alyokhina to perform 100 hours of community service for participating in an unauthorized protest against Russia’s ban on the messaging app Telegram.

Earlier that month, Alyokhina and other activists threw paper planes — Telegram’s logo — at the headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB) in Moscow’s Lubyanka Square.

The demonstrators were charged with violating regulations on public gatherings.

Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor started blocking access to Telegram on April 16, following a court ruling against the popular messaging app days earlier.

The move to block Telegram has deepened concerns that the government is seeking to close avenues for dissent after President Vladimir Putin secured a new six-year term following elections in March.

Pussy Riot came to prominence in 2012, when Alyokhina and two other women were convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” for a stunt in which band members burst into Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral and sang a “punk prayer” against Putin, who was prime minister and campaigning for his return to the presidency at the time.

Alyokhina and bandmate Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were close to the end of their two-year prison sentences when they were freed in December 2013, under an amnesty they dismissed as a propaganda stunt to improve Putin’s image ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.