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Russia's ombudsman to seek release of Pussy Riot members

August 24, 2012, 13:05 UTC+3
Next week lawyers of the Pussy Riot will lodge an appeal to the Moscow city court against the verdict that sentenced the band’s members to two years in a penal colony
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MOSCOW, August 24 (Itar-Tass) — Next week lawyers of the Pussy Riot punk band will lodge an appeal to the Moscow city court against the verdict that sentenced the band’s three members to two years in a penal colony. Lawyers will prove the absence of any components of the crime in the girls’ actions. Meanwhile, Russia’s ombudsman Vladimir Lukin plans to seek the release of the punk band’s members and is ready to speak in defense of those accused of organizing mass riots in Bolotnaya Square on May 6.

Lukin has a strong intention to defend the Pussy Riot girls, the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily wrote. “I actively do not approve the actions of these ladies. I consider their behavior in the cathedral foolishness and faux pas,” he said. “But I think their action is not a crime, but an offence. Yes, a rather serious offence, but in a normal, civilized European state - what Russia truly is - this offence should be punished as an administrative and not a criminal action. Therefore I consider this verdict excessive. I remind that this is only the first instance judgment and it has not entered into legal force yet. I hope that the next instance will reconsider it. If it remains unchanged, I will contest it.”

Aside from Pussy Riot Vladimir Lukin plans to defend those accused of organizing riots in Bolotnaya Square on May 6, the Novye Izvestiya reported. The ombudsman expressed an opinion that there were no mass riots ahead of the president’s inauguration, “there were just isolated brawls and multiple violations by special police force.” Lukin said he received around 50,000 complaints a year, most of them related to unfair court verdicts and arbitrariness of law enforcers, whereas prisoners remain the most vulnerable social group in a legal sense.

Pussy Riot lawyer Violetta Volkova told RBK daily that she hoped for interaction with Vladimir Lukin. She said she had a positive experience of cooperation with him, when she appealed against administrative arrests of Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov.

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