Russia: Pussy Riot band members to remain in detention until 2013
At a closed hearing on 20 July 2012, the Khomovnichesky District Court extended until 12 January 2013 the detention of three members of the female punk band Pussy Riot who are prosecuted for having performed an anti-Putin song in a Moscow church.
The decision prompted immediate condemnation from their lawyers, opposition figures, human rights activists and supporters from all over the world.
On 20 July 2012, Judge Marina Syrova approved the prosecutors’ reuqest to keep the three band members — Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 — in pre-trial detention until 12 January 2013, nine months after they were arrested.
Prosecutors had argued that the three women are ‘flight risks’ and could commit new crimes if released from detention. The band members’ defense lawyers immediately let the public know that they would appeal the ruling.
Punk prayer to ‘chase out Putin’
The three members of the band Pussy Riot have been detained since March 2012, charged with ‘hooliganism’ following their alleged participation in a ‘punk prayer’ performance in Christ the Savior Cathedral on February 21. The ‘prayer’ event was staged by four masked individuals calling upon the Virgin Mary to “Chase out Putin”.
The ‘punk prayer’ performance was strongly condemned by state and church officials, who have called on the women to repent. The suspects have denied the charges.
Human rights groups and defence lawyers for three women, who face up to seven years in prison if found guilty, argue that the case against them is politically motivated and is directly linked to the fact that the womens’ performances was part of a major opposition prior to the presidential elections in March 2012.
Hap Stance Dep Art – 31 July 2012:
Pussy Riot and the Suppression of the Political Voice
The Moscow Times – 23 July 2012:
Pussy Riot Detention Extended to 2013
Gazeta – 23 July 2012:
Red Hot Chili Peppers writes letter of support for Pussy Riot
Read more: about Pussy Riot on artsfreedom.org