Is it punk? Militant secularists Pussy Riot verdict & publicity stunt

   

PublicEnquiry

 

Published on Oct 10, 2012

Pussy Riot member released on probation, sentence upheld for 2 others
Published: 10 October, 2012, 14:38
After an appeal, a Moscow court overturned the original ruling and released on probation Ekaterina Samutsevich, the Pussy Riot activist who previously requested new counsel in light of the circumstances surrounding her arrest.

amutsevich asked for a new lawyer on October 1, when the court was first convened to hear appeals on behalf the group. In a surprise move, Samutsevich claimed that she required new counsel, as the defense lawyers were only representing the group as a whole and special circumstances applied to her individual case. The appeals process was briefly delayed while Samutsevich sought new representation.
Irina Khrunova, Samutsvich's new counsel, argued on appeal that Samutsevich had been removed from the church premises before she was able to engage in the 'punk prayer.'
Khrunova emphasized the fact that Samutsevich never took part in the protest, and that she was only in the church for 15 seconds. She barely had time to remove her guitar from its case, according to the additional statements, and was therefore unable to perform any of the offensive acts for which the defendants were found guilty.
Members of the female punk band "Pussy Riot" (L-R) Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.(Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)
In reading her statement, Samutsevich declared that while she did intend to perform a political act when entering the church on February 21, she had no intention of offending any religious beliefs.
Lawyers representing the plaintiffs expressed shock at the new developments, calling Samutsevich's position "hypocritical" and an "attempt to delay verdict". They argued, unsuccessfully, that Samutsevich's confirmation of her intent to carry out the protest warranted punishment in and of itself, and that any other statement was contradictory.
Lawyers for two other members of Pussy Riot expressed confusion at the verdict. "We do not understand why the judge differentiated the actions of the Pussy Riot participants, we are happy that Samutsevich has been freed, but it would have been fair to set all the girls free," Interfax quoted defense attorney Mark Feigin as saying after the decision. "We will continue to fight this decision in the Supreme Court and using the authority of the European Court of Human Rights."
On August 17, Maria Alyokhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and enmity for the band's now-infamous 'punk prayer' in Moscow's main cathedral. The three women each received a two-year jail term in a medium security prison.
In February, several members of Pussy Riot staged the performance of a profanity-laden 'punk prayer' in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, where they chanted, "Mother of God, drive Putin away." Witnesses said the women had offended their religious sensibilities, though the women argued that was never their intention.
The three women were taken into custody several days later, after a video with a studio-recorded soundtrack was posted on the Internet.
Prosecutors accused the band members of flagrant disregard for church parishioners and the fundamentals of the Orthodox faith. The defense lawyers claimed the performance was an act of political protest, and therefore had nothing to do with insulting Orthodox believers.


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