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Pussy Riot members say they committed ethical misdemeanour

posted 30 Jul 2012, 09:37 by Mpelembe   [ updated 30 Jul 2012, 09:37 ]

Members of the Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot admit they are guilty of an ethical misdemeanour, but not of criminal charges.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA (JULY 30, 2012) (REUTERS) - 
Members of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot admitted on Monday (July 30) that they were guilty of an "ethical misdemeanour" for their February stunt in Moscow's Christ the Saviour cathedral in which they stormed the church's altar and called on the Virgin Mary to push then-Prime MInister Vladimir Putin away.
Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, were jailed in late February and face up to seven years in prison if convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility.


Tolokonnikova admitted that she and other members could be seen as being guilty of ethical transgressions, but she said their actions did not meet the threshold of criminal acts.


"Today we will give the reaction to the indictment against us. We've prepared it, have written it. We need to explain why we do not agree, why we do not plead guilty. We will be talking about how we accept our ethical misdemeanour, but an ethical misdemeanour should not be a cause of criminal punishment, and this is the sense of all this. That's the most important thing that everyone should understand, especially the injured party," Tolokonnikova said.


Samutsevich agreed, speaking from a slot in the glass cage that holds defendants in Russian courtrooms.

"We just decided that this is very important for us to say all of this to explain our ethical position," she said.


The plight of the three women, two of whom have young children, has made headlines in the West.

Governments and rights groups, as well as musicians such as Sting and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, have expressed concern about the trial, reflecting doubts that Putin - who is serving his third presidential term and could be in power until 2024 - will become more tolerant of dissenting voices.


Symbolically, the trial takes place in the same Moscow courthouse where jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was found guilty of stealing his own oil in a trial in 2010 that many Western politicians said looked like a crude Kremlin attempt to keep a man it saw as a political threat behind bars.


Charged with hooliganism, Pussy Riot members face up to seven years in prison if convicted - a punishment rights groups say would be grossly disproportionate no matter what the law says.

"We'll just have this judicial procedure today, when they will read the indictment," the girls' lawyer, Violetta Volkova, said on Monday morning.


The all-girl group has no lead singer, and, in order that anyone may join, its members don multi-coloured balaclavas, which have become its trademark. They numbered five when they formed in November but later expanded to 10 members, though there have been no performances in Russia since their bandmates' arrest.

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