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Pussy Riot Lawyers Ask For Acquittal

  • RFE/RL's Russian Service

Members of Pussy Riot at the trial in Moscow on August 7.

Members of Pussy Riot at the trial in Moscow on August 7.

The lawyers of three members of the Pussy Riot female punk group have asked a Moscow court to acquit their clients after the prosecution had called for a three-year jail sentence.
The lawyers argued that their clients' actions cannot be classified as a crime.

"The court cannot try our defendants based exclusively on a theocratic interpretation of the law," lawyer Mark Feigin said. "The secular nature of the state dictates that even inside a church there are no blasphemous actions, but only administrative or criminal offenses."
The defendant's other lawyer Violetta Volkova said the trial was politically motivated.

"This is not a criminal case. These women have been recognized political prisoners by international organizations: Amnesty International, Memorial, and others," Volkova said. "These women are here now not because they danced in a church, or because they wore the wrong clothes in the wrong place, or because they prayed in the wrong way or didn't cross themselves properly. They are here because of their political views."
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich were charged with hooliganism and insulting feelings of Orthodox Christians after staging a performance at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral in March against President Vladimir Putin’s rule.
They have been in detention since March. The court began hearing arguments of the defendants and the prosecutor on August 7. Meanwhile, the lawyers for the Christ the Savior Cathedral's employees, who are registered as victims in the case, asked the court to give the defendants suspended sentences.
Madonna Support

Also on August 7, the U.S. pop music star Madonna urged Russia not to jail the three young ladies. Madonna told The Associated Press during her concert tour of Russia that she is "against censorship" and hopes "the judge is lenient with them and that they are freed soon."
Madonna was the latest of several international music stars to appeal for leniency. Last week, a group of British musicians including Pete Townshend and the pop group Pet Shop Boys have urged Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was on a visit to London, to give a fair trial to the Pussy Riot members.
In a letter published in the London "Times" newspaper last week, 12 musicians called the charges against the three female band members "preposterous." Other signatories were Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos, Johnny Marr of The Smiths, and folk singer Corinne Bailey Rae.
Putin, in his turn, said while in London that the three women should not be punished "too strictly." Putin told reporters in London he hopes "the court issues a correct decision."


(WATCH: Madonna says jail sentence would be a tragedy.)

With reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax

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