ACTION: Detention of Punk Group Extended in Russia (UA 122/12)
A Russian feminist punk group has conducted several performances in public places such as Moscow underground, Moscow Red Square and on the roves of buses. In media interviews the group members have stated that they protest against, among other things, stifling of freedom of expression and assembly in Russia, unfair political process and fabrication of criminal cases against opposition activists.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Ekaterina Samutsevich, all in their twenties, were arrested and detained in March. The protest song entitled Virgin Mary, redeem us of Putin was performed in Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow on 21 February 2012 by several members of the group who had their faces covered in balaclavas. The song calls on Virgin Mary to become a feminist and banish Vladimir Putin. It also criticises the dedication and support shown to Putin by some representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church. The performance was part of the broader political context of anti-Putin protests and protests against unfair elections in Russia.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (f), Maria Alekhina (f) and Ekaterina Samutsevich (f)
On 20 June the Taganskii District Court in Moscow extended the pre-trial detention of the three alleged members of a feminist punk group, Pussy Riot, until 24 July. Their lawyers are appealing against the decision. The three women could face trial in aproximately two months’ time.
The judge overseeing the proceedings denied the women bail, agreeing with the investigator’s claims that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Ekaterina Samutsevich could potentially abscond, put pressure on witnesses and continue their criminal activity if released. The investigator further argued that their continuing detention would provide protection, claiming that the women could be attacked by “offended believers”. The lawyers of the three women declared the decision to be unlawful and unsubstantiated and will be appealing it to the Moscow City Court.
During the hearing Nadezhda Tolokonnikova admitted to participating in the ‘punk prayer’ in Christ the Saviour Cathedral but refused to plead guilty to the charge of hooliganism. Maria Alekhina and Ekaterina Samutsevich called their charges unsubstantiated. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova also stated that officials of the Centre for Fight with Extremism threatened her, saying that if she did not plead guilty she would be given a prison sentence.
An action in support of the three women was organized on the day of the hearing in the Taganskii District Court. A number of supporters of the feminist punk group were detained by police, as were several counter-protestors; all were later released.
Please write immediately in Russian or your own language:
* Calling on the authorities to drop the charges of hooliganism and immediately and unconditionally release Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova;
* Urging them to promptly, fully and impartially investigate any alleged incidents of pressure put on the three arrested women by members of the Centre for Fight with Extremism or any other officials.
Prosecutor of the Moscow’s Central Administrative District
Denis Gennadievich Popov
Prosecutor’s Office of the Central Administrative District
ul. L.Tolstogo, 8, str.1
Fax: 007 499 245 77 56
Salutation: Dear Prosecutor
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