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One Pussy Riot Member Freed by Moscow Court

Pussy Riot - A Controversy in Russia and Around the Globe
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Two-year sentences for two other defendants are upheld by the court.

MOSCOW – A Moscow court has cancelled the two-year prison sentence for Yekaterina Samutsevich, a member of the feminist punk rock band Pussy Riot, while upholding the previously handed sentences for the band’s two other members, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

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On Wednesday, Oct. 10, the Moscow city court considered the defendants’ appeal against a previous court decision, under which the three women were sentenced to two years in prison for the anti-Putin “punk prayer” at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral last February.

Irina Khrunova, Samuchevich’s new lawyer, argued that, unlike the other two defendants, she didn’t actually participate in the church “gig.”

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“Samutsevich was able to step over the fence, climb up to the solea, put on a balaclava and take out her guitar,” Khrunova said, addressing the court. “After that she was caught by the cathedral’s employee.” She added that therefore Samutsevich did not have the time to “pray, dance and yell profanities that insulted believers.”

Judge Larisa Bolyakova accepted the argument, which was confirmed by a video shot at the cathedral and one of the witnesses’ testimony, and replaced Samutsevich’s real prison term with a two-year suspended sentence. The woman was freed in the court room.

Earlier this month, Samutsevich fired her previous lawyer, Violetta Volkova, replacing her with Khrunova.

The court upheld the sentences handed to the other two defendants. Their lawyers said they would appeal the verdict in the presidium of the Moscow city court and, if necessary, in the European Human Rights Court.