Russia: today's Pussy Riot appeal denial is 'further travesty of justice'

Denial of Maria Alekhina’s appeal compounds injustice already done

Today’s decision by a Russian court to deny Pussy Riot member Maria Alekhina a deferral of her prison sentence to a later date compounds the injustice already meted out to the imprisoned punk singer, Amnesty International said in response to the ruling this afternoon.

Perm Region’s Berezniki City Court in the Ural, where the 24-year-old Alekhina is serving her sentence, denied the deferral - which had been made on the grounds that she has a five-year-old son to care for - saying this had already taken into account when passing her initial sentence last year.

Alekhina’s young son is presently being looked after by her mother. A similar bid was launched in October by Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a fellow imprisoned Pussy Riot member.
 
Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, together with Ekaterina Samutsevich - three of the members of the all-female group Pussy Riot - were charged with “hooliganism on grounds of religious hatred” after they performed a protest song in Moscow’s main Orthodox cathedral last February. All three were subsequently sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in a penal colony but Samutsevich was later given a suspended sentence on appeal.

Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director David Diaz-Jogeix said:
 
“Today’s court ruling is a further travesty of justice. The three Pussy Riot singers should not have been prosecuted in the first place. Today's decision has proven again that the Russian authorities are uncompromising in their suppression of freedom of expression.

“Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova should be released, immediately and unconditionally, while the suspended sentence of Ekaterina Samutsevich should be overturned.

“Today’s verdict is in line with the suppressive policies of the Russian authorities, stifling dissent in any form.

“For one stunt, clearly within their right to freedom of expression, the three punk singers had to endure months of humiliation and hardship in detention - something that continues for Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.”

Amnesty believes that the trial of the Pussy Riot singers was politically-motivated, and that they were wrongfully prosecuted for what was a legitimate - if potentially offensive - protest action. The organisation considers Alekhina and Tolokonnikova to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs.

Amnesty’s campaign for the release Alekhina and Tolokonnikova is at www.amnesty.org.uk/pussyriot
 

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