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Russia: Legal win for Pussy Riot

20 July 2018
The European Court of Human Rights has criticised Russia for its “exceptionally severe” treatment of Pussy Riot after its 2012 performance in Moscow.
Photo: Denis Bochkarev (Dennot) / Facebook

 

In a judgment handed down 17 July 2018, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) criticised Russia for its “exceptionally severe” treatment of punk band Pussy Riot following the group’s protest performance at a Moscow cathedral in 2012.

The court found Russia committed multiple violations of the European Convention on Human Rights when it detained, tried, convicted and jailed three Pussy Riot members—Mariya Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich. 

The trio was arrested after their performance on 21 February 2012 for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”. They remained in pre-trial detention before being convicted and jailed six months’ later.

The Russian trial court found that the women’s actions had been offensive and insulting because they wore brightly coloured clothes and balaclavas, waved their arms, kicked their legs around and used obscene language.

Alekhina and Tolokonnikova spent one year and nine months behind bars, while Ms Samutsevich served approximately seven months in jail before her sentence was suspended.

The ECHR said in its judgment the band members had been subjected to “inhuman or degrading treatment” because of overcrowded conditions while being transported to and from the courtroom, and because they had to “suffer the humiliation” of being exposed in a glass dock during their hearings.

Their right to freedom of expression was also violated, the court ruled, because of the band members’ conviction and prison sentences, which were “exceptionally severe”. A further violation was committed by banning internet access to a video of the band’s performance, the judgment said.

The court also found Russia violated the right to liberty and security, and the right to a fair trial.

It ordered Russia pay damages of 16,000 euros each to Alekhina and Tolokonnikova and 5,000 euros to Samutsevich, as well as 11,760 euros for costs and expenses.

Two days before the European Court of Human Rights released its judgment, four people in police uniform stormed the field at the FIFA World Cup Final between France and Croatia on 15 July. Pussy Riot claimed responsibility for the protest that called for all political prisoners to be freed. The four activists have been jailed for 15 days, reported BBC.

Artist Ai Weiwei and musician Charli XCX have thrown their support behind the group’s action via social media.

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