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Russia

Russian Pussy Riot Verdict Due Next Week

Members of the Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot behind a glass cage at their court hearing in Moscow. (Left to right: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich)
Members of the Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot behind a glass cage at their court hearing in Moscow. (Left to right: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich)
By RFE/RL's Russian Service
The verdict of three members of the Russian feminist punk group Pussy Riot will be handed down on August 17.

The judge at Moscow's Khamovnichesky district court announced the date for the verdict after the defendants delivered their final statements in the courtroom on August 8.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich were charged with hooliganism and insulting the feelings of Orthodox Christians after staging a performance at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral in February against President Vladimir Putin’s rule.

They were arrested in early March.

Delivering her final statement in the courtroom, the group's lead singer, Tolokonnikova, compared the trial to Stalin-era trials, saying, "Who would have thought that our history, in particular, the recent great and frightening Stalinist terror, would teach us nothing?"

Tolokonnikova also sharply criticized Russia's legal apparatus.

"It makes one want to cry when one sees how the methods of the medieval inquisition reign in the law enforcement and justice systems of Russia, our country," she said. "But since our arrest, we can no longer weep. We've forgotten how to cry."

In her final statement, Alyokhina said that Pussy Riot's action in the cathedral was not against Putin personally but against the system he had become a symbol of.

'So-Called Freedom'

Alyokhina said that the worst thing the judges could do was to deprive her of her "so-called freedom, since that kind of freedom only exists in the Russian Federation."

"Nobody can deprive me of my inner freedom," Alyokhina added.

In her turn, Samutsevich maintained that Pussy Riot's action in February had broken the image of the "kind and caring Orthodox authorities in Russia" presented by the state-controlled media.

"Our country is a secular country and the official power structures cannot merge with the church, that was our message," Samutsevich said.

She also said that Putin should think about his resignation, adding that "although it looks like we have lost our trial, in fact we have won it."

The defendants’ final statements were followed by applause from some of those present in the courtroom.

The prosecution on August 7 called for a three-year-sentence for the three young women. Defense lawyers asked the court to acquit them.

A number of international celebrities and musicians have called for Pussy Riot group to be released.

On August 7, U.S. pop icon Madonna interrupted her packed concert in Moscow to tell the cheering crowd that she was praying for the band members' freedom.

With reporting by Interfax, ITAR-TASS, and AFP
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gordon Ball from: Ottawa Canada
August 08, 2012 13:23
There's a lot at stake. The whole world is watching.

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
August 08, 2012 22:37
"The Whole World is watching", from the West?
If one is watching like the guy from Switzerland,
He saw nothing - excited by the world "Pussy".
If they criticized Putin - freedom of speech.
If it was in Church, dancing - missdomina.

If it was undressed, moving privet parts
On the holly place - it is sensative thing,
Multi-religious country, with the tradition
Of religious leaders leaded their nations.

Because of criticized Putin, let them go,
with minimal panishment for huliganizm.

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