1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages

Europe

'Lenient' verdict for Pussy Riot?

The Moscow trial against three members of the band Pussy Riot is seen by many as a show trial. The prosecution called for a three-year sentence, but the court said it will take one week before issuing a verdict.

During closing statements on Wednesday (08.08.2012), Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said the trial was "a political order for repression [that meets] the standards of Stalinist troikas."

After hearing the defense's closing argument, the case's judge said she would announce her verdict on August 17.

Should the prosecution get what it asks for Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, will be found guilty of hooliganism and inciting religious hatred and receive a three-year prison sentence. The trial against the three members of the punk band Pussy Riot began in July.

The case has received massive attention in Russia as well as around the world. The band, which consists of more members than just three in court, had staged a "protest prayer" in February in Moscow's biggest church, the Cathedral of Christ the Savoir, just days ahead of the presidential elections that swept Vladimir Putin back into the president's office.

An Internet video shows a group of women in short dresses and wearing colorful balaclavas, dancing in front of the altar and shaking their fists. The video is accompanied by a punk prayer, a song calling on Mary to chase away Putin. Authorities managed to identify three of the women. Politicians and the Orthodox Church alike had described the described the performance as a serious crime and blasphemy and called for a harsh sentence.

No maximum sentence

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Maria Alyokhina. Photo: Misha Japaridze/AP/dapd

Tolokonnikova, Samutsevich, and Alyokhina face years in prison

Public prosecutor Alexei Nikiforov on Tuesday (07.08.2012) confirmed in his closing statement that the acts of the accused where so severe that they needed to be "isolated from society." Yet he also said he wanted to take into account that none of the three women had any previous convictions and that Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina are both mothers of young children.

The call for the three-year sentence falls short of the possible maximum sentence of seven years. The trial has been internationally criticized as being politically motivated and regardless of how the verdict, the trial has already led to debates over the independence of the Russian judiciary.

By request of the prosecution, the hearings were not public. Defense lawyers complained that they did not have enough time during the trial to prepare. Especially, they said, they had not been granted permission to call further witnesses.

Little protest

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

Many obersvers believe that Putin has great influence on the verdict

Protests in front of the court building have decreased since the trial began. Also the number of politicians and celebrities protesting against the trial has waned since the first days of the proceedings. The number of protesters holding banners outside the court has with time dwindled from 50 to two.

On the other side of the street there was, however, another protester. He told DW the band's "satanic dance" in front of the altar had insulted him as a believer and suggested that the women should be held in a psychiatric institution or stripped of their Russian citizenship rather than put in prison.

Putin's influence?

Watch video 01:19

Pussy Riot verdict to come on August 17

Even Russian President Vladimir Putin has commented on the trial and the possible sentence for the three young women. Their protest, he said, had little good to show for but at the same time the judges should be lenient with the verdict. "I don't think they should be punished too severely," the president said.

Putin added that he hoped "the court would arrive at a just and well argued verdict." He also said he hoped the three women would draw their own conclusions and learn from their mistakes.

Similarly, the Russian Orthodox Church has recently called for a mild sentence, after initially calling for tough measures. The Church also said the matter should not be discussed anymore.

DW recommends

Audios and videos on the topic