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Pussy Riot member files defamation lawsuit against former lawyer

Published time: August 20, 2013 13:52
Edited time: August 20, 2013 14:26
Yekaterina Samutsevich (AFP Photo / Yuri Kadobnov)

Yekaterina Samutsevich (AFP Photo / Yuri Kadobnov)

One of the members of the Pussy Riot punk band has sued the defense attorney who represented her at the process and demands 2 million rubles in compensation for damages to honor and reputation.

Yekaterina Samutsevich was sentenced to two years in prison in August 2012 for a punk stunt in a Moscow cathedral that took place in February of the same year. The two other band members received similar sentences, but unlike them, Samutsevich was released on probation in October last year.

Shortly before release, she replaced defense attorney Violetta Volkova, who represented all Pussy Riot members, with Irina Khrunova. The new lawyer completely changed the line of defense and claimed that her client was not in the cathedral when the infamous performance was recorded.

In December the punk rocker told the press that the first defense team refused to return her documents and apartment keys and also refused to pass on papers to the new lawyers about a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights.

Soon after Samutsevich came out of prison, Volkova claimed that her ex-client had entered a plea deal and that this was a betrayal of the other two Pussy Riot members. The attorney circulated this theory in interviews and posts in various blogs and social media. In a short time she published “the history of Samutsevich’s treason” on the Internet – a set of documents, according to which the replacement of attorneys happened on a cellmate’s advice, who was possibly acting on instructions from prison authorities.

Members of the female punk band "Pussy Riot" stage a protest inside Christ The Saviour Cathedral in Moscow in this still image taken from file video February 21, 2012 (Reuters / Pussy Riot Group / Reuters TV / Handout)

Samutsevich replied with a lawsuit saying that Volkova must refute these unproven claims and pay her 2 million rubles (about $64,000) in compensation for damage to her reputation. The case is going to court, near Moscow, in the suburban town of Elektrostal and the first preliminary hearing is scheduled on September 18.

The plaintiff’s representatives have told the press that she had also prepared another lawsuit against all three lawyers who worked on the defense team in the Pussy Riot process. The lawsuit claims that the three subjected Samutsevich to a defamation campaign, but it has not yet been forwarded to court.

The baiting campaign has already lasted for over six months; it was even earlier when they started posting insults [to] in my address. Maybe now I have no other option but to file a lawsuit. Maybe this would somehow stop the spreading of false reports about this criminal case,” Samutsevich said in an interview with the Kommersant.fm radio. 

Violetta Volkova replied by saying that the fresh lawsuit was nothing but an attempt at self-promotion. “No one can discredit her more than she had already discredited herself,” the Interfax news agency quoted the lawyer as saying.

Last week the Moscow Region’s Board of Attorneys reported that it had listened to a complaint about Volkova’s work, earlier filed by Samutsevich, and found that the lawyer had committed serious violations that could potentially cost her status as a legal attorney. The board will pass the final decision on the subject on September 25.

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