Russia court rejects appeal by feminist rock group Pussy Riot

[JURIST] A Russian court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot [RASPI backgrounder; JURIST news archive] against their sentence for a protest against Vladimir Putin [BBC profile]. Last year the group was convicted [JURIST report] of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" and sentenced to two years in prison. Moscow City Court chair Olga Yegorova denied that the case was politically motivated. Pussy Riot lawyer Irina Khrunova told the Associated Press she would appeal to Russia's Supreme Court.

The imprisonment of members of Pussy Riot sparked an international outcry against the Russian political and judicial system. Last week a Russian court denied parole [JURIST report] to Pussy Riot member Maria Alekhina. In April a Russian court denied parole [JURIST report] for Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who had requested it so that she could look after her young daughter. In February the band filed a complaint [JURIST report] in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] challenging their conviction. They contend that their conviction violates four articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. In January a court denied [JURIST report] the band's appeal of an Internet ban on their videos. The court ruled that the band's videos questioning the role of religion in Russian government was "extremist" and President Vladimir Putin argued that the ban is protecting the beliefs of the Russian Orthodox population. In October Alekhina and Tolokonnikova were transferred to separate regional prisons [JURIST report] generally reserved for dangerous criminals to serve their two-year sentences. Earlier in October band member Yekaterina Samutsevich was freed on appeal [JURIST report] because she did not actually participate in the protest song, and she vowed to take the band's case to the ECHR on charges that the Russian government had illegally detained them and also violated the rock group's right to free speech.

 

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