MOSCOW, November 14 - RAPSI. The Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI) is hosting live text coverage of the hearing to determine whether video footage of Pussy Riot’s punk rock prayer should be banned in Russia due to its “extremist” content.

The trial was set to begin in the Zamoskvoretsky District Court of Moscow at 11am, but as usual things are running a bit late.

Live Transcript

11:43 That's all for today - but join us again next time for more Pussy Riot coverage!

11:42 Her attorney adds further that the video is not extremist in any way.

11:40 After the hearing Samutsevich started speaking with reporters. She explains that she wants to protect the movie. In her view, if it is declared extremist, it will be difficult to launch a supervisory appeal. She also points to the impact it might have on her appeal to the ECHR. She adds that any such declaration may impact the fates of her jailed punk rock sisters Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina.

11:35 So it seems like the hearing's pretty much over for the day.

11:32 The prosecutors have just now requested a say in the matter. The judge has decided to set a new preliminary hearing for November 20 at 9:30am.

11:29 Samutsevich explains that she is in the process of launching a supervisory appeal, and that a declaration of the footage as extremist may affect the outcome of the process.

11:28 The judge is asking why Samutsevich wants to participate in the hearing. She notes that by law, only those whose rights and interests are impacted by a given issue may intervene as a party to a case.

11:26 Today's hearing will center primarily on whether to introduce Samutsevich as an interested party in the case. The court is considering beginning without prosecutorial representation.

11:22 The prosecutors still haven't arrived.... what a day.

11:12 At this point photographers and video recorders are being granted five minutes to shoot photos and video footage. They will then be shown out of the courtroom. We're not sure yet whether journalists will be allowed inside the courtroom during today's session, during which both sides of the debacle are set to testify.

11:09 The court secretary is calling attendance among the parties. No one from the prosecution seems to have arrived yet.

11:06 As usual, the hearing won't be starting on time. No indication yet of when it will begin.

11:00 The court has fallen into a state of pandemonium. The journalists are slowly gaining in number.

10:55 It remains to be seen whether Samutsevich will be recognized as a concerned party in this case. Last we heard, her efforts to join as a third party fell through based on some timing issues.

10:54 Just FYI, you can access the Russian-language version of this broadcast as well on RAPSI Russian.

10:51 Scratch that - Samutsevich has arrived.

10:51 Journalists are mobbing the courtroom. It's been reported that freed Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich might make an appearance, but so far she hasn't been spotted.

10:50 Some of you thought naively that you'd never hear from your old friends Pussy Riot again since they were locked away in a prison colony. Well, today's your lucky day. Good morning and welcome to the Pussy Riot extremism trial, where prosecutors will argue that the video montage made from the girls' Christ the Savior Cathedral punk rock prayer should be banned as extremist materia. With you this morning are Anna Shubina and Ingrid Burke.


The video at issue is a montage of the girls performing a prayer in punk rock song form in the pulpit of Christ the Savior Cathedral in central Moscow. The lyrics of the song implore the Virgin Mary to “chase Putin out.” This avant-garde protest was performed shortly before the March 2012 presidential elections that brought then-prime minister Putin back to the presidency. The girls, donning colorful balaclavas and mini-dresses dance around raucously and do a series of high kicks. The video was posted online and evoked a massive public outcry. The performance has been broadly viewed as offensive to Orthodox believers as the pulpit is revered as extremely sacred, and people are generally forbidden from entering it. 

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested shortly after the performance. The three were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred in August and sentenced to two years in prison each. On appeal, a judge converted Samutsevich’s sentence to time served with immediate release after her new attorney argued that she had been detained by church security before reaching the stage, and that she thus had not participated in the punk rock prayer. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina are currently carrying out their sentences.

Prosecutors filed for the extremism declaration last week on the basis of the results of a psycho-linguistic examination that was submitted to the prosecutors’ office by lower house legislator Alexander Starovoytov of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Freed Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich filed earlier last week to be joined as a third party in the hearing, but her motion was rejected. The court reasoned that at that point the prosecution had not yet submitted its filing, so there was – as of yet – no hearing to join.