MOSCOW, October 1 - RAPSI. The Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI) is hosting live text coverage of the hotly anticipated Pussy Riot appeal from Moscow City Court.
Domestic and international audiences alike were transfixed by this summer's hooliganism trial of three members of Russian punk rock collective Pussy Riot. The case - which pitted free speech against religious sanctity - attracted heated controversy worldwide and drew in advocates from both sides of the spectrum.
On February 21, five girls wearing brightly colored balaclavas stormed the altar of downtown Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral to perform an anti-Putin protest song entitled, “Holy Sh*t.”
Judge Marina Syrova decision on August 17 to convict members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich of hooliganism and sentenced them to two years in a prison colony stoked the flames, provoking a number of Western politicians and international organizations to question human rights and the Rule of Law in Russia.
The Pussy Riot girls have 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.
12:41 That concludes our live broadcast for today. Thanks for joining us and stay tuned for the next appeal hearing on October 10 at 11am!
12:37 So far, the groups have managed to coexist peacefully. It probably helps that there are nearly as many police as there are activists.
12:35 Orthodox activists are holding a prayer service near the courthouse. Nearby, supporters of the girls are playing guitar and singing Pussy Riot songs.
12:26 Samutsevich's motion caught defense attorney Mark Feigin by surprise. He says he met with her recently and she hadn't said anything.
12:20 The court was quick to kick everyone out of the courtroom.
12:15 Samutsevich's father is telling journalists that he's not clear on the specifics of the differing views that prompted his daughter to break ties with her lawyers.
12:11 The judges have also asked the defense team to decide which of the defendents they each represent.
12:10 The appeal has been postponed until 11am on October 10.
12:07 The hearing has resumed. The judges have granted Samutsevich's motion.
12:05 The fathers of Tolokonnikova and Samutsevich are in the courtroom, along with the parents of Alyokhina.
12:02 The suspense is palpable in the courtroom; spectators are placing bets on the likelihood of a postponement to accommodate Samutsevich's request.
12:00 Four activists are planning on bringing into the courtroom blow-up dolls wearing balaclavas in order to symbolize their view that the courts have been blowing hot air throughout the course of these proceedings.
11:50 Outside, there are rallies in support of Pussy Riot, and arrests have been made. The band Kazaky (Russian for Cossacks) has come to support them. Ironically, real Cossacks are considered to be quite conservative, quite pro-Orthodox. Modern-day Cossacks usually condemn Pussy Riot.
11:39 The hearing has been adjourned again so that the judges can reconsider the motion.
11:38 Most participants to the appeal support Samutsevich's motion. Only one attorney for the aggrieved parties disagrees. As even the prosecution supports the motion, it is highly likely to be granted.
11:28 The hearing has resumed.
11:26 It is possible that the hearing will be adjourned in order to bring in a new attorney.
11:23 The court announced a break in order to consider Samutsevich's motion.
11:22 Samutsevich is complaining that the court is violating her rights by failing to consider her motion.
11:21 The judge has denied Samutsevich's motion for a new lawyer, reasoning that Samutsevich failed to adequately explain the reasons of her decisions. Having explained only that her own views differed from those of the attorneys, she didn't provide adequate justification.
11:19 If the court grants Samutsevich's motion, the appeal will be postponed. Samutsevich says her views differ at this point from those of the trial defense team, and that she has hired another lawyer.
11:18 Interesting development: Samutsevich has announced her decision to sever ties with all of her defense attorneys. It turns out the rumors were true.
11:16 Judge Larisa Polyanka is presiding over the appeal.
11:13 There is a panel of three judges. They are checking the credentials of the parties, scrutinizing the Pussy Riot girls' passport details.
11:10 The hearing has begun.
11:09 Samutsevich's father is speaking with the defense attorneys and attempting to pass his daughter some document. Rumors were floating around this morning that Samutsevich had severed ties with all of the defense attorneys, but those are yet unsubstantiated.
11:06 The masses clawing their way into the courtroom has become a show in and of itself. Photographers are documenting the stampede as the crowd - inclusive of 50 journalists - crushes through the entryway.
11:04 RAPSI's Russian-language edition is broadcasting live video footage of the appeal, if you're interested.
11:01 As everyone files into the courtroom in the standard order: lawyers, then close relatives, then journalists - the bailiffs are calling in vain for order.
10:55 Photography and video recordings have already started.
10:53 The girls were just brought into the courtroom holding cell. All of the lawyers are already in place. The lawyers, spectators, and journalists still haven't been allowed into the courtroom.
10:53 So far there haven't been any protests for or against the girls; just one against the church.
10:51 Journalists had already begun lining up for access to the courtroom over an hour prior to the start of the hearing. There's a line out the door leading into the courtroom; everyone is trying to get in on the action.
10:50 The girls have already arrived at court, but have not yet been delivered to the courtroom. Their relatives are in attendance, including Tolokonnikova's husband Pyotr Verzilov.
10:50 Courtroom security is strict today; police, K-9 units, bailiffs, and others are surrounding nearly every corner of the court. On the way into the court, everyone was interrogated about their purpose for being here at least 10 different times.
10:45 Good morning! Welcome back to RAPSI's continued coverage of the Pussy Riot affair. Today, the Moscow City Court will hear Pussy Riot's appeal of the sentence. It is expected that the girls will attend the hearing in person. You are currently hearing from Anna Shubina and Ingrid Burke. Don't forget to keep hitting refresh!