Yes, it’s true that a Russian “court” sentenced all three members of feminist punk band Pussy Riot to two years in prison today on hilariously trumped-up charges of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” (yeah, OK…), but we feel like they won the news cycle in their own way.

For one thing, very few people outside of Russia–and only a few more within it–had any interest in the group before this story broke a few weeks ago (and based on their music, we can see why), but their unfortunate name is now common knowledge in news rooms and living rooms around the globe.

Large-scale protests among the country’s cultural and intellectual elite couldn’t stop Vladamir Putin from reclaiming the presidency in a fairly blatant show of vote-fixing earlier this year, but these three ladies knew how to win the attention of both the government and the outside world: A couple of weeks before the election, they staged what can only be described as a publicity stunt in a Moscow Catholic church, dancing around in hoods that look like they came from American Apparel‘s fall line and chanting a song whose lyrics demand that the Virgin Mary “Drive away Putin.”

Sure, the move alienated some older, more traditional members of the body politic, but the way we see it, the whole ordeal was a big PR win for the band and its ideological allies…and a major loss for the Putin government. Read more