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On Wednesday, the Moscow City Court released from prison a convict from the Pussy Riot punk band Yekaterina Samutsevich, for whom a term in prison for two years was changed to a suspended sentence. She went home right from the court. The verdict to Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina was upheld, and the latter are to serve two years in a penitentiary.
Their lawyers stated that Yekaterina Samutsevich did not have any time to sing or dance and was taken away from the church by the guards, as long as she put on the balaclava and was trying to get the guitar from the cover, going behind the fence on the ambo, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported.
The Kommersant daily noted that Samutsevich refused before from the services of lawyer Violetta Volkova in favour Irina Khrunova from the human rights organization Agora. The lawyers and the human rights activists do not rule out that a lenient verdict became possible thanks to the change in the tactics of the lawyers. The lawyers admitted before the trial that they did not hope for the release of their clients. According to them, the result of the trial became clear after President Vladimir Putin approved the verdict to Pussy Riot in an interview with the NTV television channel on Sunday, “The criminal case was being investigated and the trial was launched, and the court sentenced them to two years in prison. I am not involved in this affair,” the newspaper quoted the president as saying.
The Wednesday verdict passed in the Moscow City Court came more unexpected, as the trial began, as well as the trial in the first legal instance, from a statement of all members of the Pussy Riot band for pleading not guilty. After listening to the arguments of the litigating parties the judge upheld the guilty verdict to Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, but ruled to release Yekaterina Samutsevich changing a real term in prison for her to a suspended sentence.
The Moscow City Court was guided by two arguments in the verdict, “First, Katya was released, because she actually did not commit an offence, which was included in the guilty verdict, and the court did not take it into account before. The state authorities are obviously strongly tired of fierce debates over the criminal case,” the Kommersant daily quoted Agora head Pavel Chikov as saying.
According to lawyer Mark Feigin, who is cited by the RBC daily, this is a purely political decision. “This decision was taken to show the differentiation of the punishment in case of political defence and in a criminal case,” he said. The state authorities are interested in a split in the band, otherwise, all young women had been released, he said.
The arrest and an absurd and obviously political trial against the participants in the punk prayer at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral made them the idols of the non-system opposition, the Vedomosti daily said in an editorial article. The state authorities punished them not for a concrete crime (which is not envisaged in the Criminal Code), but for an offensive action and for hitting the pain point. The society split in those, who condemn the blasphemers, and those, who see a political bias, violation of the law and human rights in the trial.
But then Samutsevich changed the lawyers and the strategy of defence. But one should realize that the Wednesday success is not accidental, as the actions of new lawyers were adequate to say the least. The most important thing is the verdict remains guilty, and the criminal case and the trial remain absurd, the Vedomosti daily concluded.