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Pussy Riot give closing arguments, verdict date set

Published time: August 08, 2012 13:22
Edited time: August 08, 2012 18:08

The members of the Pussy Riot punk band (from left in the dock) Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Ekaterina Samutsevich (RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin)

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Three members of punk band Pussy Riot have given their final testimonies, to applause from many in the courtroom. The case verdict on the band Pussy Riot has been adjourned until August 17, the judge announced.

The prosecution has demanded three-year sentences for the punk rockers over their performance in Moscow’s main cathedral that has been branded as “blasphemy."

The band members’ closing statements were politically-charged, with Nadezhda Tolokonnikova calling the trial indicative of political repression.

“The whole world is saying that we are not guilty. They talk about it at concerts, on the internet, in the press and in parliament. The whole world is saying ‘they’re not guilty!’” said band member Ekaterina Samutsevich.

Maria Alyokhina alluded to a Madonna concert on the eve of the final hearing, during which she had “Pussy Riot painted on her back, describing the media exposure the trial was receiving as ‘amazing.’”

The eruption of applause that followed the final testimonies, prompted Judge Syrova to call for order.


Their “Punk Prayer”, which they performed on February 18 inside the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, scandalized the Orthodox Church and offended many of its believers.

All three band members have pleaded not guilty to charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, but have admitted they erred in their actions, calling their performance in Church’s main cathedral an “ethical mistake.”

Pussy Riot have made an official apology to those aggrieved parties who witnessed their performance in the Cathedral.

They argue that their actions were in no way driven by religious hatred but instead by a desire to send a political message. The song that they performed in the Cathedral included the lyrics "Virgin Mary, Mother of God, put Putin away. Put Putin away, put Putin away,” in the chorus.


The prosecution, however, argued that the group’s political stance was just a ruse to cover up their religious hatred. The fact that Putin’s name was only mentioned in the refrain of the “punk prayer,” which apparently broke the context of the rest of the song, was indicative of the group using politics as a scapegoat, argued the prosecution.

Tolokonnikova said that the band chose the cathedral because it represented the “search for truth.” However, she said that the prosecution was “trampling” on the values of Christianity.

Tolokonnikova said that Christianity, as she understands it, supports the search for truth – a value that Pussy Riot shares – and that is why the band chose the cathedral for their performance. She added that “Christ did not ostracize harlots; he helped them, he forgave them,” concluding that the prosecution was “trampling” on the values of Christianity.

“When we speak about Putin, we are not referring to him personally, but the political system that he created,” said Alyokhina.

The prosecution claims that it is being lenient in calling for a jail sentence of three years, given that the usual punishment for the official charge of “hooliganism” in Russian is seven years. They say they took into account the fact that two of the women have children.

The case of Pussy Riot has been a drawn out process that has gathered political momentum along the way. The three women were taken into custody in February and were held until the trial began on July 30.

The final verdict will be pronounced on August 17 at 3pm Moscow time (11:00 GMT).

“When we speak about Putin, we are not referring to him personally, but the political system that he created,” said Alyokhina.

The prosecution claims that it is being lenient in calling for a jail sentence of three years, given that the usual punishment for the official charge of “hooliganism” in Russian is seven years. They say they took into account the fact that two of the women have children.

The case of Pussy Riot has been a drawn out process that has gathered political momentum along the way. The three women were taken into custody in February and were held until the trial began on July 30.

The final verdict will be pronounced on August 17 at 3pm Moscow time (11:00 GMT).

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