Protests, verdict loom for Russia’s jailed punks

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PARIS (AP) - They’re asking for undies on heads, masks, and as much color as possible. Organizers of protests in more than three dozen cities around the world are hoping thousands will turn out in raucous support of Russian provocateurs Pussy Riot, who are facing a verdict Friday in Moscow.

Three women in the band have been in jail for more than five months because of a guerrilla performance denouncing President Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s main cathedral, and face a maximum seven years in jail.

Celebrities including Paul McCartney, Madonna and Bjork have called for them to be freed. Germany’s top human rights official, Markus Loening, joined them Friday, saying their detention had already been “fully disproportionate.”

The trial on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred has attracted worldwide attention as an emblem of Russia’s intolerance of dissent.

In Paris, a protest is planned to coincide with the verdict on Igor Stravinsky Square, near the Centre Pompidou modern art museum. In Washington and capitals around Europe, protests are planned outside Russian embassies.

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