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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 19 November, 2019
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Pussy Riot trial reaction: band members' conviction criticised by EU, US

Two-year sentence for hooliganism conviction criticised as ‘disproportionate’ and impacting on freedom of expression.

A masked Pussy Riot supporter at a protest on Dublin's O'Connell Street yesterday.
A masked Pussy Riot supporter at a protest on Dublin's O'Connell Street yesterday.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire

THREE MEMBERS of the Russian female punk band Pussy Riot have been sentenced to two years in prison following their conviction on hooliganism charges motivated by religious hatred.

The women’s trial has brought international criticism and sparked protests in Moscow, where some of their supporters – including opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov and former chess champion Garry Kasparov – were arrested. Demonstrations have been held in their support in Washington DC, Tel Aviv, Paris, London, Sydney and Dublin.

The conviction and sentencing have drawn outrage from their supporters on Twitter, as well as concerned comments from the EU, the US and Amnesty International.

“The US is concerned about both the verdict and the disproportionate sentences handed down by a Moscow court in the case against the members of the band Pussy Riot and the negative impact on freedom of expression in Russia,” US Department of State spokesperson Victoria Nuland said. “We urge Russian authorities to review this case and ensure that the right to freedom of expression is upheld.”

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton also described the sentence as “disproportionate” and criticised the affair for sentencing three young women for peacefully expressing their views:

Together with the reports of the band members’ mistreatment during their pre-trial detention and the reported irregularities of the trial, it puts a serious question mark over Russia’s respect for international obligations of fair, transparent, and independent legal process. It also runs counter to Russia’s international obligations as regards respect for freedom of expression.

This case adds to the recent upsurge in politically motivated intimidation and prosecution of opposition activists in the Russian Federation, a trend that is of growing concern to the European Union. Respect for human rights and the rule of law is an indispensable part of the EU-Russia relationship.

British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said that his government is “committed to a relationship with Russia in which we can discuss differences frankly and constructively”, adding: “We have repeatedly called on the Russian authorities to protect human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, and apply the rule of law in a non-discriminatory and proportionate way. Today’s verdict calls into question Russia’s commitment to protect these fundamental rights and freedoms.”

Former world chess champion and outspoken Putin critic Garry Kasparov was among the band’s supporters arrested outside the Moscow court yesterday:

Meanwhile, the bandmates of Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova released a new single recorded in their absence shortly after the verdict was announced. The single, Putin Lights Up the Fires, was released exclusively through the Guardian:

YouTube credit: ScarceMedia

Pussy Riot members sentenced to two years in prison >

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