(AsiaNews) - The three-women anti-Putin feminist punk band on trial in Moscow since
30 July for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" defended themselves by
speaking about Stalin, Dostoevsky, Soviet dissidents, the terror of the 1930s
and Socrates. On Monday, prosecutors called for three-year labour camp
sentences for its members for belting out their "punk prayer" in Moscow's
Christ the Savior Cathedral in February during which they pleaded with the
Virgin to free the country from Vladimir Putin.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of the three accused, has
compared their trial to those of Russia's Stalinist era, calling it a
"political order for repression (that meets) the standards of Stalinist
troikas," expecting "the collapse of this political system". Her reference
was to the show trials conducted by three-judge panels against people who had
run afoul of the Soviet regime.
The trial, which is being held in Moscow's Khamovnichesky
courthouse, has divided Russian public opinion.
Yesterday, the court announced that the verdict against
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (22), Maria Aliokhina (24) and Ekaterina Samukevitch
(29) would be rendered on 17 August.
All three women, who have young children, have been
held in preventive custody and could have received a maximum of seven years. However,
on 2 August, President Putin appealed for a lighter sentence, words that worked
on the prosecution.
Deemed prisoners of conscience by Amnesty
International, the Pussy Riot apologised for the action, saying that it was political,
unrelated to the Orthodox religion.
However, Orthodox commentators in Russian media said
that it is impossible not to take into account that the cathedral has become
the symbol of Russia's religious revival after 70 years state atheism, and that
is stands as a monument to all those who died for their faith under the Soviet
As soon as the incident occurred, the patriarch of
Moscow called for an exemplary sentence without any clemency as did many
The three accused attacked the head of the Russian
Orthodox Church. "We did not turn Christ the Saviour into a political arena,"
said Ekaterina Samukevitch, "Patriarch Kirill did when he tried to convince believers
to vote for Putin before the election."
The women's defence lawyer Nikolai Polozov said that
any verdict other than innocence would be illegal.
Fellow lawyer Mark Feigin warned that Pussy riot
supporters around the world are ready to protest as soon as the guilty verdict
is announced, which no one doubts it will be.
In the past few weeks, the punk group, who through
their performance in February wanted to attack the close ties between the
Russian Orthodox patriarchate and the Kremlin, was overwhelmed by statements of
solidarity from the world's artistic community, people like Bjork, Red Hot
Chili Peppers, Madonna and other international mega music starts.
However, the three young women have also received the
support of political leaders. As Germany's Der
Spiegel reported, 121 members of the Bundestag sent a letter to the Russian
ambassador to Germany expressing their support for the Pussy Riot.
The European Union announced that it would continue to
monitor developments in the case.