Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
SUNDAY, 20 APR 2014
07:48 PM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
23 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
International
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Pussy Riot punks compare trial to Stalinist repression
Agence France Presse
Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia.
Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia.
A+ A-

MOSCOW: The lead singer of Pussy Riot compared the punk group’s trial to Stalin-era repression Wednesday in a dramatic finale to the hearing pitting the three women against the might of both the Kremlin and the Church.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova spoke hours after pop star Madonna and the artist and widow of John Lennon, Yoko Ono, joined calls for President Vladimir Putin to show mercy on his young and effectively powerless critics.

Prosecutors want the three to be sentenced to three years in a corrective labor facility on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after they performed a “punk prayer” against Putin in Moscow’s largest church.

Judge Marina Syrova will start reading her verdict on Aug. 17 after eight days of deliberations following a trial where she barred most of the defense witnesses from testifying.

The women’s lawyers have called for an international protest on the day of the verdict.

Speaking from inside the glass enclosure reserved for the defendants, Tolokonnikova compared the hearings to “troikas” – a powerful Russian term referring to tribunals during the Soviet dictator’s bloody purges.

“The court case comes close to the standards of Stalinist troikas, to my deep regret. We only have the investigator, the judge and the prosecutor,” she said.

“We see this as a political order for repressions,” Tolokonnikova added in a hushed courtroom packed with journalists and supporters.

The controversial case prompted Madonna to interrupt a stadium concert in Moscow Tuesday to tell the cheering crowd that she was praying for the band members’ freedom.

Ono for her part tweeted a message to Putin telling him he was making a mistake. “Mr Putin you are a wise man & don’t need to fight with musicians and their friends,” she wrote.

Tolokonnikova and her bandmates Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina pulled on colorful balaclavas inside Christ the Savior Cathedral on Feb. 21 and belted out a song asking the Virgin Mary to oust Putin.

“Virgin Mary, Mother of God, drive out Putin,” the three women sang in a punk anthem that condemned “the Church’s praise of rotten dictators” and urged religious leaders to embrace feminist values.

Putin was elected president for a third term two weeks later and authorities have since launched criminal probes against leaders of street protests in Moscow in the winter.

Defense attorney Mark Feygin said the judge was taking such a long break after expectations of a quick verdict because authorities had “to make the most difficult choice: whether to punish the innocent.”

“If they are issued real sentences, that means the authorities have made their choice. It will clearly mean the authorities have chosen the path to dictatorship,” Feygin told journalists.

Putin broke months of silence last week by saying that he did not like the band’s behavior but did not want them “judged too severely.”

The Russian court system has rarely issued verdicts in high-profile trials that contradicted the Kremlin’s interests during Putin’s 12 years in power as both president and prime minister.

Analysts said Putin was trying to distance himself from the damaging case.

“Putin is trying to put a brave face on this mess and distance himself from the Pussy Riot case, although this case still reeks of political involvement,” said Vladimir Oivin, deputy editor of Credo.ru religious news website.

“Putin spoke out for a mild verdict for the sake of his image,” said Olga Sibireva of the Sova Centre for Analysis. “If there is a guilty verdict, they can say Pussy Riot were convicted despite Putin and our court really is independent from the authorities.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 09, 2012, on page 10.
Home International
 
     
 
madonna / Pussy Riot / Russia / Russia
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Saturday April 19, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Why Israeli-Palestinian talks fail
Michael Young
Michael Young
Why confuse gibberish with knowledge?
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
Echoes of 1914 characterize the Ukraine crisis
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS