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Pussy Riot punk group activists forwarded a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights

February 07, 2013, 11:02 UTC+3

In their opinion, when handing down the verdict, Moscow's Khamovniki court violated several articles of the Russian Constitution

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The activists of the Pussy Riot punk group, convicted for an action at the Christ the Savior Church, said in a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights that the Russian government was violating their rights to the freedom of expression, fair trial and decent treatment.

The activists sent a 355-page petition to the ECHR complaining about Russian justice, the Novye Izvestia writes. The young women's lawyers - Ionko Grozev and Irina Khrunova - helped their clients to have the complaint sent to the right address. In their opinion, when handing down the verdict, Moscow's Khamovniki court violated several articles of the Russian Constitution: on the freedom of expression, on the right to freedom and personal security, the ban on tortures and the right to fair trial. Other claims concerned the justifiability of the verdict and prison conditions.

The defendant will be the Russian government, which was accused of violating the young woman's rights to the freedom of expression, fair trial and decent treatment.

The complaint by Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich about Russia comprises 55 pages, and another 300 pages contain additional materials, the newspaper Kommersant reports.

The lawyers affirm that viewing the punk group's action at the Church as an attempt to hurt the believers' feelings /this argument by the prosecutors made groundwork for the verdict/ is incorrect, because in actual fact, it was an artistic performance, which cannot be judged outside of the context of the political situation in Russia.

The authors of the complaint remind that September 24, 2011 was the staring point in the establishment of Pussy Rot, when President Dmitry Medvedev stated he would not run for president for the sake of Vladimir Putin. Then on February 1, 2012, Patriarch Kirill publicly supported presidential candidate Vladimir Putin at the Bishops' Council, which made the Pussy Riot activists indignant. By that time, they had gained a rich experience in political performances.

In the lawyers' opinion, the Russian authorities repeatedly violated the right to fair trial during the review of the Pussy Riot case. For example, the court did not question a single expert from among those who had examined the punk prayer trailer at the prosecutor's order.

Keeping the defendants in a bulletproof glass cage during the court hearings was another violation of the European convention, the lawyers said. For example, in the case Mikhail Khodorkovsky vs Russia, the former Yukos CEO also called this format humiliating and finally proved his cause. The Convention was also violated by the conditions in which the defendants were kept, according to the lawyers.

They have not named the sum of compensation yet. "It's far more important that the court acknowledge our innocence and find the Russian authorities guilty of violating human rights. I believe we have fair chances because the whole Europe was watching out trial," Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich told the Kommersant.

Head of the legal service of the Moscow Patriarch Office Ksenia Chernega doubts that the ECHR will grant Pussy Riot's complaint. "They were arraigned not for remarks but for hooliganism. They committed acts of hooliganism. The freedom of expression is not the absolute right and can be restricted to protect certain values. If their statements insulted a group of persons they should suffer punishment," Chernega told the newspaper.

The Kommersant underlined that the European court had shown special interest in the punk group's case, although Strasbourg receives thousands of complaints from Russians wishing to sue the government, which makes Russia leader by the number of lodged complaints. Lawyer Irina Khrunova, who sent to Strasbourg a preliminary complaint on behalf of the punk group activists, received a letter requesting her to submit additional documents as soon as possible, which shows the court's considerable interests in the soonest review of the Pussy Riot case.





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