MOSCOW, October 10 - RAPSI. The Moscow City Court commuted Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich’s hooliganism sentence from two years in a prison colony to immediate release with probation Wednesday during the group’s appeal of its collective sentence for hooliganism motivated by religious enmity.
Please find the detailed text broadcast and the photos form the courtroom here.
Samutsevich was represented in the hearing by Irina Khrunova. She announced last week during the initial appeal hearing that she had chosen to sever ties with the defense team, comprised of Violetta Volkova, Mark Feigin, and Nikoay Polozov, that had represented the girls from day one of the trial. At the time, she remained silent as to why she had chosen to part ways with the defense team. Today she revealed that her decision was based on the team’s failure to distinguish her actions from those of the other girls during the trial phase.
In late February, five young women wearing brightly colored balaclavas performed a "punk-style" prayer at the altar of Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral. An edited video of their performance was posted on the Internet, causing a public outcry. Samutsevich maintains that she was not one of the women seen performing on the altar in the video, as she had been apprehended by security before she was able to make it all the way there. While she was in the cathedral, wearing a balaclava and clutching a guitar, she argues that she did not have the opportunity to participate in the protest itself, and thus was not afforded the opportunity to engage in any of the activities deemed to have offended the religious sensitivities of Orthodox devotees.
The court seemed to agree, opting to grant her immediate release.
Samutsevich promptly left the courtroom, filled out some paperwork, and then was released to a jubilant crowd at 3:18pm. Her father, who has been present throughout the case and testified as a witness during the hearing, was beyond thrilled with the news.
Not completely satisfied with the outcome for her client, Khrunova told journalists after the hearing that she has not ruled out the possibility of appealing the sentence, stating that "this is not the final victory." She is not satisfied with the court's failure to adequately distinguish Samutsevich's actions from those of the other two, maintaining that the former did not engage in any of the actions that constituted the offense of hooliganism, such as dancing and shouting.
The Khamovnichesky District Court in Moscow sentenced Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich to two years in prison on August 17. The prosecutor requested a three-year sentence, although the Criminal Code stipulates that the maximum punishment for this kind of offence is seven years in prison. Nonetheless, the aggrieved parties believe that the custodial sentence could well be replaced by a conditional one.