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[Russia] Pussy Riot member released; two others remain detained

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Today, Wednesday 10 October, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, the three detained members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot held on charges of ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’ faced their second appeal hearing in Moscow.

The hearing lasted approximately three hours and it was announced that the two-year jail term of band member Yekaterina Samutsevich was to be suspended. The announcement was reportedly met with cheers in the courtroom, whilst fellow band members hugged Samutsevich. She was released shortly afterwards to further applause and shouts of congratulations from crowds outside the Moscow courthouse. According to the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI) “Samutsevich says that she’s happy, but very tired. The crowd is almost too noisy to hear anything she’s saying.”

Whilst we warmly welcome Samutsevich’s release, we were disappointed to learn that the sentences against her fellow defendants will be upheld. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, both of whom have young children, will now be required to serve out the remainder of their two-year sentences in prison colonies, possibly far from Moscow. Lawyer Mark Feigin spoke out about the verdict, stating “I do not understand the distinction made by the court; it is unclear how their roles were significantly different in characterizing the circumstances. We had rightfully anticipated the release of all three girls.”

According to RAPSI, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina’s laywer have vowed to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, whilst Irina Khrunova (representing Samutsevich) has not excluded the possibility of appealing the sentence against her client, stating that “this is not the final victory.”

Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN:

We were relieved to learn that the sentence against Yekaterina Samutsevich has been suspended but are seriously concerned for Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova who remain imprisoned. We firmly believe that all three defendants were detained in violation of their right to free expression and therefore continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova and for the charges against Samutsevich to be dropped.

We will be continuing to monitor developments in the case closely and to do whatever we can to support them over the coming months.

For more information, we recommend the live stream from today’s appealing hearing posted by The Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI).

 

SUPPORT FOR PUSSY RIOT

To help maintain awareness of their case ahead of the appeal hearing, we’ve been posting daily tributes to the band, in the form of some extraordinary poems and images, on our website. These pieces and many more were published as an anthology, CATECHISM: POEMS FOR PUSSY RIOT, to coincide with the first appeal hearing on 1 October. Both e-book and print on demand versions of the collection are now available, with all proceeds going to Pussy Riot’s legal fund and our Writers at Risk programme.

Despite today’s decision we are determined to keep their case in the public eye. Please help us by downloading, reading, sharing, tweeting, translating and remixing the amazing work produced by our Poets for Pussy Riot. 

 

 

Send letters of appeal

  • Expressing shock that the two year sentences against Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova have been upheld;
  • Welcoming the suspended release on appeal of Ekaterina Samusevich, but noting that her freedom is not unconditional
  • Pointing out that the harsh sentence is clearly in retaliation for the lyrics of the song performed by Pussy Riot members, containing language that is strongly critical of the Church and of President Putin in particular, and is this in breach of  international conventions, specifically Article 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Russia is a signatory;
  • Therefore calling for the immediate and unconditional release of both Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova, and the complete dismissal of the charges against all three women.

 

You can send messages to President Putin via the Kremlin website or to the following address:

President Vladimir Putin
President of the Russian Federation
23, Ilyinka Street, 
Moscow, 103132

Russia

His Excellency Dr Alexander Vladimirovich Yakovenko
6/7 Kensington Palace Gardens,
London,
W8 4QP
Fax: 020 7727 8625

 

Send messages of solidarity

Messages of solidarity to the prisoners can be sent via the FreePussyRiot website: www.freepussyriot.org

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