Pussy Riot Case: Russian Court Set for Appeal Hearing

by
staff
The adjourned appeal hearing for three activists from the Russian punk band Pussy Riot is set to start in Moscow.

Pussy Riot

The adjourned appeal hearing for three activists from the Russian punk band Pussy Riot is set to start in Moscow.

In August, the trio were jailed for two years for staging an anti-Kremlin protest in Moscow's main cathedral, Christ the Saviour.

The appeal was adjourned last week because one of the defendants said she wanted time to replace her lawyer.

Yekaterina Samutsevich told the judge she had a difference of opinion with her original counsel.

The 30-year-old and fellow band members Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, were found guilty of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" in August.

Their imprisonment sparked condemnation in many parts of the world.

'Punk prayer'

The band performed an obscenity-laced song in front of the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral on 21 February.

The "punk prayer" - which implored the Virgin Mary to "throw out" President Vladimir Putin and sought, the band said, to highlight the Russian Orthodox Church leader's support for the president - enraged the Church.

But while the Church hierarchy said the women's action "cannot be left unpunished", it added that any penitence shown should be taken into consideration.

Those comments followed a suggestion from Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that a suspended sentence would have been sufficient punishment.

But the women's lawyers have said they their clients would not repent if it meant admitting guilt.

They have said they doubt the appeal will be successful, with analysts suggesting that while the band members' sentences might be reduced, they were unlikely to be overturned.