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Moscow court rules to keep Pussy Riot girls in custody for 6 months

July 20, 2012, 18:16 UTC+3
A total of ten petitions were filed with the court during its today’s session
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MOSCOW, July 20 (Itar-Tass) —— Moscow’s Khamovniki district court has ruled to keep the girls from the notorious punk rock group Pussy Riot who are facing hooliganism charges in custody for six months more. The decision was taken on Friday by Judge Marina Syrova who thus sustained the prosecutor’s motion.

The three girls will be kept under arrest until the trial is over.

According to the court’s press secretary, Darya Lyakh, the court will make public its pronouncements on petitions related to the case on July 23. On the same day, the judge will appoint the date when the court will consider the merits of the case.

A total of ten petitions were filed with the court during its today’s session, including the one to summon Russian President Vladimir Putin and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill.

According to the girl’s lawyers, they filed a petition demanding to exclude the latest psychological and linguistic examination and to appoint a new one. The lawyers also insist on the interrogation of ten witnesses, including senior deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church Father Andrei Kurayev, acclaimed art critic Andrei Yerofeyev, investigators Denis Ranchenkov and Mikhail Kharkov, several artists, experts and eyewitnesses, such as journalist Alexander Kashin and blogger Dmitry Aleshkovsky.

Security measures were enhanced at the court building. The entry was closed. At least six busses with riot police were seen in the vicinity of the court building. Apart from that, traffic along the street where the court is located was partially suspended.

Pussy Riot supporters gathered in front of the court. Two of them were taken to a police station, according to the press service of the Moscow police. “A girl was detained for a conversation, and a young man – for being drunk in a public place. He refused from medical examination and will face administrative offence charges,” the press service said.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, the participants in a scandalous punk prayer at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, are charged with hooliganism (part 2, article 213 of the Russian Criminal Code).

According to investigators, Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich, along with other yet unidentified persons (against whom a separate case was opened) “colluded to commit an act of hooliganism on reasons of religious hatred and animosity against a social group and committed provocative and insulting acts in a religious building that attracted attention of worshipers.”

Five young girls in masks and bright clothes appeared in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on February 21, 2012. They rose to the Ambon and then approached the Altar. With the help of sound amplifying equipment which they had brought into the church, they sang an obscene song for several minutes and insulted the clergymen and the believers. They were ignoring remarks made by the church employees and the visitors and disappeared when the guards wanted to detain them. Later on, the Pussy Riot punk group, notoriously famous for staging similar actions in other places, including on Red Square, claimed responsibility for the punk-prayer.

The case had a great public response. For more than three months, media have been disputing how to classify this act from the legal point of view: whether it be an act of hooliganism or an administrative offence. An administrative offence has light consequences while hooliganism is a crime which carries stricter punishment.


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