Home Page > News Item > RUSSIA: Pussy Riot Band Members Jailed For Two Years

17 August 2012

RAN 22/12 #Update 3


PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee is deeply concerned at the two year prison sentence handed down today to the three members of the Russian punk band, Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samusevich under Article 213 of the Russian Criminal Code. The sentence was read today at the Khamovnichesky Court in Moscow.

The three women had been held in custody since early March with their trial not beginning until July.

During the trial the women were locked in a bulletproof cage and according to their lawyers were not giving food or water for long periods of time. The prosecution and its witnesses argued that the bands act had betrayed a deep hatred of all Orthodox Christians and was not motivated by their outrage at the Putin regime, as they woman had stated.

PEN International monitored the trial where the defence was repeatedly denied the right to make objections, to call their witnesses and at times even to speak. The repressive nature of this judicial process is of increasing concern for PEN International, further highlighting the ongoing repression of free speech in Russia.

The decision comes nearly 6 months after the three women were taken into custody and charged with “hooliganism” motivated by religious hatred, an offence carrying a maximum seven-year term. On 21 February the three women walked into the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow wearing colourful masks and performed a song with the aim of highlighting the close relationship between the Orthodox Church and Putin.

The women were arrested two weeks later.

According to reports and videos of the event, there was no violence or damage to the premises, and PEN International believes that the women have been treated particularly severely because of the lyrics of the song they performed and is composed in the form of a supplication or intercession prayer, in this case addressed to the Virgin Mary.

The heavy prison sentence announced today, which has caused widespread outrage, is huge blow for freedom of expression in Russia and highlight the growing trend of oppression in the country.

For more information on the case see our RAN alert’s:

http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/russia-pussy-riot-trial-closes-%E2%80%93-verdict-due-17-august/

PEN International published a translation of their “punk prayer” Punk Moleben and its context:

http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/russia-pussy-riot-punk-moleben-put-putin-away/

PEN Russia’s open letter to Vladimir Putin in support of Pussy Riot members:

http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/pen-russia-protests-pussy-riot-detentions/

We also recommend articles and tweets by Guardian Moscow correspondent Miriam Elder who was present at the trial @MiriamElder

Appeals

Please send letters expressing deep concern at the two year sentences served against Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samusevich;

-Adding that long term imprisonment for an action that did not cause physical damage to any person, building or property would in other circumstances have resulted in a lesser punishment, caution or financial penalty ;

-Pointing out that the harsh sentence is clearly in retaliation for the lyrics of the song performed by Pussy Riot members, containing language that is strongly critical of the Church and of President Putin in particular, and is this in breach of international conventions, specifically Article 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Russia is a signatory.

-Therefore calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the three women.

Address

You can send messages to President Putin on the Kremlin website

http://eng.letters.kremlin.ru/

Or by mail:

President Vladimir Putin
President of the Russian Federation
23, Ilyinka Street,
Moscow, 103132
Russia

You may find that the Russian ambassador in your own country is more likely to respond to your appeals, so we recommend that you either write to him or her directly or send a copy of your appeal. You can find the Russian embassy in your country here.

Messages of solidarity to the prisoners can be sent via the FreePussyRiot website: www.freepussyriot.org

For further information please contact Sara Whyatt at PEN International Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International, Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER Tel: +44 (02) 20 7405 0338 Fax: +44 (0) 20 74050339 Email: sara.whyatt@pen-international.org