Site Archive‎ > ‎Unfair Trial‎ > ‎Pussy Riot‎ > ‎

Protests to be held on International Women's Day in support of members of feminist punk band Pussy Riot arrested in Moscow

Source: HRO.org (info), 06/03/12

· Gender equality  · Freedom of speech  · Freedom of conscience  · Ministry of Internal Affairs 
· Persecution of activists  · Protest activity  · Moscow and Moscow Oblast

On 8 March 2012, civil activists are planning to hold solo pickets at the buildings of the Moscow Directorate of Internal Affairs on Petrovka Street in support of band members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot who have been arrested. Both of the detained are mothers of small children. They have been threatened with up to 7 years imprisonment. They have both gone on hunger strike at the remand prison where they are being held.

According to Gazeta.ru this was announced by Nikolai Polozov the lawyer representing Maria Alyokhina who is one of the detained. "Activists supporting Pussy Riot are planning to hold a series of solo pickets on 8 March. According to the information I have, the protests will take place near 38 Petrovka Street," Polozov said.

"On 8 March a series of solo pickets will be held supporting the two detained mothers who are suspected by the police of taking part in an arts performance in Christ the Saviour Cathedral. We are explicitly demanding that the pre-trial restrictions placed on the women be changed regardless of whether they took part in this action or not. Under the law solo pickets do not require permission," announced Pyotr Verzilov a former activist with the Voina art group.

On the same day a large discussion forum dedicated to the circumstances surrounding the prosecution of Pussy Riot will be organised at Marat Gelman's gallery at the Vinzavod Centre for Contemporary Art with the participation of Marat Gelman and Andrei Erofeev.

The previous day, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot, which is charged with hooliganism, were remanded in custody for two months by Moscow’s Tagansky district court, Grani.ru reports.

Nikolay Polozov confirmed that his clients would remain in detention until 24 April. The prosecutor insisted on these pre-trial restrictions, arguing that Tolokonnikova is accused of committing a serious crime and would destroy the evidence if set at liberty.

Both of the detained are mothers of small children. They could face up to 7 years’ imprisonment. They have both declared hunger strike at the remand prison where they are being held. From 2 p.m. Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova had been held handcuffed in a guard room.

On 3 and 4 March three members of the group and Pyotr Verzilov were detained. Nikolay Polozov reported that Verzilov and one of the women were released after questioning and Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova (Verzilov's wife) were kept in detention for 48 hours. According to Polozov's information, Verzilov will take part in the case as a witness. However, according to the investigation's version of events he was the organiser behind Pussy Riot, a source in the law enforcement agencies reported.

A criminal case regarding the "punk prayer" at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral was brought on 26 February after a complaint was made by Russian Orthodox Church activists. On 21 February several women in masks performed the song "Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, rid us of Putin" next to the altar. "As a part of an ongoing criminal case brought under Article 213 Section 2 of the Russian Criminal Code (Hooliganism), four people, who are activists in the group Pussy Riot, were brought by officers of the Interior Ministry's Moscow Anti-extremism Centre to a police station," the Moscow's police service press office reported. "These citizens were brought in on suspicion of a crime that was a gross breach of public order for motives that include religious hatred and committed by a group of persons working together in premeditated collusion." The police added that during their searches "materials of substantial significance to the case" were confiscated.

The Pussy Riot group had previously explained the idea behind their action in the Cathedral on their blog: "Seeing as peaceful demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of people are not producing an immediate result, before Easter we will be asking the Blessed Virgin Mother to get rid of Putin more quickly". In January the group organised a spontaneous concert on Red Square with the song "Putin is peeing his pants". The women were detained by officers of the Federal Guard Service, two participants in the action were later fined 500 roubles.