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Court to consider legitimacy of custody extension for Pussy Riot activists

May 11, 2012, 10:18 UTC+3

They insisted that custody of their clients was illegitimate and asked for bail

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MOSCOW, May 11 (Itar-Tass) — The Moscow City Court on Friday will consider the legitimacy of extending arrest for Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, the suspected participants in the so-called "punk prayer" at the Christ the Savior Church, staged by the Pussy Riot art group. The appeal was lodged by the defendants' lawyers.

They insisted that custody of their clients was illegitimate and asked for bail.

Earlier, Moscow's Taganka court met the investigator’s petition and extended the arrest of the three young women to June 24. The period of preliminary invesigation into the case was extended to that date, too.

A psychiatric expert examination of the girls has already been carried out.

In the beginning of May, the remand ward administration reprimanded Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich. Samutsevich's lawyer Violetta Volkova said Tolokonnikova had been rebuked for keeping a sheet of paper with private notes and Samutsevich for improper bed-making.

Under the law, a reprimand - if they get a prison term - will lose them the chance for parole.

According to the lawyer, investigators are deliberately setting Samutsevich's cellmates against her, in order to put pressure on the young woman. "Katya refuses to cooperate with the investigators, and the investigators are trying to put pressure on her through her cellmates," Volkova said.

The relations between the cellmates at present are quite tense, but "even," she added.

On February 21, five masked young women 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.

They 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.

The young women denied their involvement in the church prank.

The Pussy Riot punk group later claimed responsibility. It placed on its page on Live Journal photos and a video recording of the action. The Punk Group earlier staged a similar action in Red Square. The young women's lawyers claimed the girls had been in the Church for about 40 seconds. 

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