Home Page > News Item > RUSSIA: Russian court refuses to free Pussy Riot members

RAN 22/12 #Update 1 21 June 2012

PEN International is shocked by Russian court’s decision to keep the members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot in jail at least until late July. A court in the city said that they should stay in custody while an investigation is carried out. According to press reports the court reasoned that the defendants could “destroy evidence” if they were freed.

Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samusevich face up to seven years in jail for hooliganism after storming the altar of the Christ the Saviour Cathedral on February 21 in short dresses and colorful masks to sing a “punk prayer”, which is an exceptionally harsh punishment for a political protest. The lyrics of the song harshly condemn the then Russian Prime Minister, now President, Vladimir Putin and Russian Orthodox Church.

Outside the court building yesterday, police detained dozens of Pussy Riot supporters who whistled in unison, chanted anti-Kremlin slogans and clashed with Orthodox activists. Others gathered outside the courthouse included journalists, bloggers and a number of people with white ribbons as a symbol of opposition. Some carried white roses, while others wore shirts that said “Prison for a song?”. Several well-known opposition figures made appearances at the hearing as well. The extension of the imprisonment is particularly harsh in light of the fact that two of the women have young children from whom they have been separated for four months.

For more information on the case see our RAN alert issued on 26 April:
http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/russia-pen-joins-calls-for-release-of-pussy-riot-band-members/

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/

Appeals

Please send letters:

Protesting the detention of Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samusevich;
Pointing out that they are being treated particularly harshly because of the contents of the song lyrics;
Referring to Russia’s obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Russia, and which protects the right to freedom of expression;
Further referring to the fact that the women will be held for more than three months without trial, this time breaching Article 9 of the ICCPR that guarantees the right not to be held in pre-trial detention for lengthy periods of time.

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

**Please check with PEN Writers in Prison Committee if sending appeals after 22 July 2012**

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

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