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Court upholds custody for church prank suspects

March 14, 2012, 13:27 UTC+3

The girls ignored the rebukes by the church attendants and believers, and fled as guards tried to detain them

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MOSCOW, March 14 (Itar-Tass) — The Moscow City Court on Tuesday upheld the arrest of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, suspected of hooliganism at the Christ the Savior Church in central Moscow on February 24.

The court thereby turned down the defense's complaint, in which lawyers asked for a softer measure of restraint for the young women, such as a 100,000-rouble bail. The suspects will remain in custody until April 24.

Moscow City Court spokeswoman Anan Usachyova said in passing he decision, the panel of judges proceeded from the standpoint that the young women were accused of the crime punished by more than two years in jail.

They were also accused of the commission of crime in a group together with unknown participants.

"The investigators ascertained that Alyokhina, changed her place of residents after the crime, that is she actually escaped the investigators," the spokeswoman noted.

At the Wednesday hearing, lawyer Nikolai Polozov drew attention to the fact that the arrested women had underage children.

Speaking about Alyokhina, he said the information in the police report that she had not been bringing up her child property did not correspond to reality.

"The fact of a mother's meeting her obligations to educate her child must be ascertained not by police, but a guardianship agency," Polozov said.

He also noted that the young women were accused of not serious crimes and had no intention to hide.

When the court was reviewing Tolokonnikova's appeal, the defense claimed that the judge held a personal grudge against the defendant and was therefore biased. The lawyer reminded about the incident in Moscow's Taganka court when Tolokonikvoa, together with her colleagues from the Voina art group, released cockroaches at the court in a protest action. Also, she and her colleagues sang at a session conducted by Taganka court judge Alexandrova. "Alexanderova felt personally offended by Tolokonnikova and could not pass an objective decision," Polozov claimed.

On February 21, five masked girls in brightly colored clothes appeared in the Christ the Savior Church, ran onto the ambo before the altar and performed an indecent song for several minutes using the amplifiers they had brought along. They also shouted insults against the clergy and believers, as well as against the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill.

The girls ignored the rebukes by the church attendants and believers, and fled as guards tried to detain them.

Police opened a criminal case under Article 21, Part 2 of Russia’s Criminal Code /hooliganism/ which envisions a penalty of up to seven years.

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