Famed activist Navalny to testify on behalf of Pussy Riot
MOSCOW, August 2 - RAPSI. Famed public activist and whistleblower Alexei Navalny will testify on behalf of the three members of Pussy Riot that are currently standing trial in a Moscow court on hooliganism charges, the group's defense attorney Mark Feigin told the Russial Legal Information Agency on Thursday.
"Navalny will explain that [the Christ the Savior Cathedral punk prayer] was a political act, not an act of hooliganism," the attorney said. Navalny has made international headlines on his own behalf this week after having been formally charged Tuesday over a large-scale misappropriation of timber.
In addition to Navalny, the Pussy Riot defense team has called Islamic theosophist Heyder Jemal to the stand. According to Feigin: "He will explain to the court how the incident would have been perceived by other religious faiths, because we often hear talk about how Muslims would have killed over such an incident."
Coincidentally, the US State Department (USDOS) issued a statement Tuesday criticizing the prosecutions of both Pussy Riot and Navalny based on concerns that both are politically motivated. Speaking on the matter, USDOS spokesperson Patrick Ventrell stated, "I'd like to say that we are concerned by new charges brought against Russian activist Alexei Navalny. This follows investigations against other May 6 demonstrators and the trial of members of a punk band who have been held in detention since March."
Other witnesses that may take the stand today include two of Maria Alyokhina's former classmates. One was called by the prosecution, and the second by the defense.
The Pussy Riot hooliganism trial began Monday in the Moscow's Khamovnichesky Court in a case that has attracted heated controversy worldwide.
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Group members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich remained in pretrial detention since their early March arrest for an incident that some have lauded as a valid exercise of free speech, and that others have lambasted as blasphemous. Group members face up to seven years in prison.
On February 21, five girls wearing brightly colored balaclavas stormed the altar of downtown Moscows Christ the Savior Cathedral to perform an anti-Putin protest song entitled, "Holy Sh*t."