Members of the Anonymous hacktivist movement claimed responsibility today (Aug. 21) for mangling the website of Russia's Khamovnichesky District Court in protest of the prison sentences imposed on three women from the punk-rock band Pussy Riot.
Anonymous defaced the Moscow-based court's home page with a message demanding the release of the women. Also posted was a semi-erotic music video clip by Azis, a gay Bulgarian Romani singer, as well as a clip of a new Pussy Riot song.
"Putin's thieving gang is plundering our country! Wake up, comrades," was the inscription atop the court's website, according to Reuters.
The court said the defacement was discovered early today (Aug. 21) and that the site was temporarily taken down. It was back up later in the day. The court also called for a criminal investigation into the hacking.
Independent Russian news organization Interfax reported that while the site was in the control of hackers, a Pussy Riot song played as the webpage downloaded, and that "a slogan reading 'No Logic ― Just Hardcore' was placed near the Russian coat of arms."
The action came soon after other Anonymous branches blocked access to British government websites in protest of the U.K.'s handling of the Julian Assange affair, and attacked the Ugandan prime minister's website in protest of proposed legislation that would punish gays with life in prison.
The three women were convicted Friday of "hooliganism … motivated by religious hatred" and sentenced to two years in prison. They were arrested in February during a profanity-laden performance and protest against President Vladimir Putin at the altar of Moscow's Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
"The Pussy Riot singers colluded under unestablished circumstances, for the purpose of offensively violating public peace in a sign of flagrant disrespect for citizens," the court said.
Since the women's arrest, Pussy Riot has garnered worldwide attention. Statements from the British Foreign Office, Amnesty International and elsewhere have supported their right to free speech.
Protests of solidarity took place Friday (Aug. 17), declared Pussy Riot Global Day, at Russian embassies worldwide, including in New York, Paris and Tel Aviv.
The band, founded last August, has performed other political stunts in high-profile places such as Red Square, on a bus and in the Moscow Metro. The members usually wear dresses and ski masks.
The three incarcerated women are not the only members of Pussy Riot, which said it has no plans to stop recording. Authorities were said last night (Aug. 20) to be looking for other members.