Friday 22 November 2019

Pussy Riot deliver impassioned court plea

Shaun Walker in Moscow

The Russian punk band Pussy Riot gave impassioned speeches yesterday sharply criticising the court and the country's regime on the last day of hearings at their trial.

The three women compared their case to the show trials of the Stalin era and said that the "so-called court" could not destroy their personal freedom. The judge retired to consider the verdict, which she said would be handed down tomorrow.

The trio face up to three years in prison on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, for an impromptu "punk prayer" performed in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral in February.

The three women mimed a song, which was later dubbed with a soundtrack calling on the Virgin Mary to "chase out Putin", and uploaded to YouTube.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (23) read a statement with references to Socrates, Nikolai Gogol, Alexander Solzhenitsyn and the Bible. "We are freer than those who are prosecuting us," said Ms Tolokonnikova. "We can say everything we want, and they have their mouths shut and are puppets."

"Spectators, we are not in the theatre," said the judge when Ms Tolokonnikova's 15-minute oration was met with applause.

Defence lawyers say the judge has been biased from the start.

"It was a small and ridiculous act that has grown into a huge thing for the authorities," said Maria Alekhina (24), another defendant. "In a healthy society this wouldn't have happened."

There is little doubt that the verdict will be a guilty one, but Mr Putin, when asked about the case, said that the women should "not be judged too harshly", which has led some to speculate that Russia's notoriously pliant court system might hand the trio a short sentence. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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