Pussy Riot Rocker Freed, Two Remain in Prison

New York City – Human Rights First today welcomed the news that Pussy Riot’s Yekaterina Samutsevich was released from prison following this morning’s appellate hearing. Two other members of the band, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Mariya Alyokhina, remain in jail as their lawyers prepare to again appeal their two-year sentences. Samutsevich will go on probation with a suspended 2-year sentence. “While we join the world in rejoicing over the news that Yekaterina Samutsevich is a free woman, today’s hearing again shone a light on the politically-motivated nature of the trial,” said Human Rights First’s Innokenty Grekov. Today’s trial hinged on the sudden discovery that Samutsevich was present but did not sing blasphemous and insulting songs at the altar of the Christ the Savior Cathedral. Grekov notes that the decision to release Samutsevich is likely aimed at undermining the group’s unity and further castigating the lawyers of Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, whom Samutsevich fired earlier this month. The court today also ruled that all of the expert testimony used during the initial trial to evaluate the content of the punk prayer will stand, denying the defendants’ request to use alternative independent expert analysis. Human Rights First has noted that the experts used in investigation and prosecution of Pussy Riot have a history of aiding other proceedings targeting dissent, artists, or religious groups. The expert testimonies of Igor Ponkin, Vera Abramenkova, and Vsevolod Troitsky proved essential in establishing that the Pussy Riot women’s act was “motivated by religious intolerance,” which is absolutely necessary to apply article 213, part 2, and without which it would be impossible to penalize the women with more than a fine. The three women from Pussy Riot were convicted under article 213 (part 2) of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility.” Hooliganism statues are often used to prosecute violent hate crimes, including those committed by neo-Nazi skinheads, whose heinous racist murders have been previously referred to as “hooligans” by state authorities and are the origin for the statute’s title. “Yekaterina Samutsevich has already indicated that she stands together with her imprisoned friends and that Pussy Riot is unshaken by the Kremlin’s scheming,” concluded Grekov. “We call on the Russian authorities to stop using anti-extremism statues against dissent and use the next appellate hearing to release the remaining members of Pussy Riot, who both have young children.”

Press

Published on October 10, 2012

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