Siberian artist to contest fine for selling Pussy Riot T-shirts
NOVOSIBIRSK, February 6 - RAPSI. Novosibirsk artist Artyom Loskutov will appeal the magistrate's court's decision to fine him 1,000 rubles ($33.20) for causing religious offence by selling T-shirts in support of punk rock band Pussy Riot, Loskutov has told RIA Novosti.
The Novosibirsk magistrate's court will hear a further case against the artist on February 6, which was opened under the Code of Administrative Offences' article on unlawful business activity.
On October 23, 2012, prosecutors in Novosibirsk initiated two administrative cases against Artyom Loskutov for causing religious offence by selling pro-Pussy Riot T-shirts.
Loskutov is a vocal supporter of Pussy Riot. In March last year, icon-style images of figures in Pussy Riot-esque balaclavas were put up in the streets of Novosibirsk. One poster showed a haloed mother and child, with the mother figure wearing a Pussy Riot style mask. Law enforcement authorities believe that Loskutov was responsible for the images.
Loskutov has stated on his website that he was "exchanging" - as opposed to selling - T-shirts in support of Pussy Riot for 800 rubles ($25.70), and planned to donate the money to the group. He said this was not a violation of the law.
Police officers posing as buyers bought two T-shirts from him. Upon payment, they produced their badges and then filed a report regarding the violation.
Loskutov was charged with unlawful business activity, which is punishable by a fine ranging from 500 to 2,000 rubles ($16.60-$66.40), and with trading in a place that has not been designated for that purpose.
In late February, five young women wearing brightly colored balaclavas performed a "punk-style" prayer at the altar of the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow.
An edited video of their performance was posted online and caused a public outcry.
The Khamovniki District Court sentenced three Pussy Riot members to two years in prison on August 17.
Later, the Moscow City Court commuted the sentence handed down to Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich from two years in prison to immediate release on probation, due to the fact that she had been detained by security prior to reaching the stage, and thus did not actually participate in the punk rock prayer.
The judge left the sentences of the other Pussy Riot members, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, unchanged.