MOSCOW, July 23 (Itar-Tass) — Moscow’s Khamovnichesky district court will begin the trial on the merits of the Pussy Riot punk group case, in which three girls are accused of hooliganism in the Christ the Savior Cathedral. The trial will be open and the hearings will begin at 11 am, Moscow time, judge Marina Syrova said at preliminary hearings on Monday.
Thus, on July 30 the prosecutor will announce the bill of indictment, after which the defendants will say, whether they acknowledge their guilt or not.
“In order to ensure full access to information during the open trial, there will be live video broadcasting from the courtroom to the website of the Moscow’s Khamovnichesky district court,” court spokeswoman Darya Lyakh said.
Preliminary hearings on the high-profile criminal case ended on Monday.
Lawyers’ motion to summon President Vladimir Putin and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill as witnesses in the case was declined. The court also refused to have a new psychological and linguistic analysis, on which the defense insisted. Besides it refused to return the criminal case to the prosecutor’s office to remove violations which the defense says were committed during the investigation. At the same time the judge satisfied the lawyers’ motion to let them familiarize themselves with materials of the case and the protocol of the court session before July 27.
The defense believes that by giving them four days for looking into materials of the case, the court practically deprives the lawyers of the possibility to properly prepare for the session and work out the defense strategy.
It was calm at the district court building on Monday, as not many supporters and protesters got together there. However, security measures were stepped up. The case has had a great public response.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich are accused of hooliganism under part 2 of Article 213 of the Russian Criminal Code.
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, notorious for staging similar actions in other places, including in Red Square, claimed responsibility for the punk-prayer.