Pussy Riot member freed from jail

After a pro-gay, anti-Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral, a member is freed while two others remain behind bars

Pussy Riot member freed from jail
10 October 2012

A member of Russian punk band Pussy Riot is being set free on appeal today (10 October).

However, Moscow City Court confirmed the two year prison sentences for the two other women in the band after their pro-gay, anti-Putin cathedral protest in February.

Katerina Samutsevich’s lawyer said she had not participated in the masked protest because she had been stopped and led away before it took place.

At the appeal hearing, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina told the court their protest was purely political.

‘We did not want to offend believers,’ Alyokhina said. ‘We came to the cathedral to speak out against the merger between spiritual figures and the political elite of our country.’

‘Putin is doing everything for the development of civil war in this country,’ said Tolokonnikova, who had to reportedly raise her voice to drown out the judge to stop her from talking about Putin.

The appeal had to be postponed last week after Samutsevich sacked her legal team and demanded time to hire another lawyer.

The Russian president, who once urged for ‘leniency’ for the women, defended the sentences: ‘It is right that they were arrested and it was right that the court took this decision because you cannot undermine the fundamental morals and values to destroy the country.’

When the three women were arrested, there was an international outcry by other governments and celebrities like Madonna, who called the sentence disproportionate.

Pussy Riot performed the song ‘Virgin Mary redeem us of Putin’, and included a lyric reference to the country’s persecuted LGBT community with the line ‘Gay pride sent to Siberia in chains’.

It was one of a number of performances intended as a protest against Putin in the run-up to Russia’s presidential elections in March.

The song outraged the Orthodox Church in Russia, which accused Pussy Riot of blasphemy and asked for severe judgment.

Human rights groups have condemned the trial, with Amnesty International accusing it of being ‘politically motivated’.

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