Pussy Riot Member Finally Freed, Others Remain Incarcerated As Legal Battle Continues

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Pussy Riot Member Finally Freed, Others Remain Incarcerated As Legal Battle Continues

Yekaterina Samutsevich of the controversial Russian punk band Pussy Riot, has been freed amid legal controversy over the band’s anti-Putin “punk prayer”, performed in a Moscow cathedral in February of this year.

One of three members, of a much larger collective, were sentenced to two years imprisonment after being found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”, Samutsevich was convicted in August alongside two of her bandmates Maria Alyokhina, 24 and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, who both remain incarcerated.

Caged in a glass box throughout the appeal process, cheers were heard in court as Samutsevich was freed, reports BBC News. In a statement post-trial, one of the band’s team of defence lawyers stated, “we’re glad that Yekaterina Samutsevich has been freed, but we think the other two girls should be released”, vowing to continue the appeal process.

The controversy was sparked when the band’s protest performance was interpreted as an attack on Christ the Saviour, Moscow’s most revered church. The band however maintains their demonstration was a “political act, not anti-religious”.

Still under lock and key, fellow member of the band Maria Alyokhina maintains that their innocence and expresses her thoughts that “the verdict should be overturned”. Despite apologising for their actions, the band refuses to show remorse, claiming “for us to repent – that’s unacceptable, it’s a kind of blackmail”.

Crusading for freedom of speech, the band proclaims “we’ve been fighting for the right to sing, to think, to criticise… to be musicians and artists ready to everything to change our country.”

Samutsevich’s release signals a changing tide in the case, and comes amidst widespread support from the wider musical and political community.

Amnesty International has celebrated the ruling in a statement that reads, “Any decision that shortens the wrongful detention of the three women is welcome.”

The organisation also criticises Russia’s judicial system by going on to say, “no-one should be fooled – justice has not been done today. The government has introduced numerous new restrictions to freedom of expression in recent months. As this decision demonstrates, Russia’s judiciary is unlikely to offer much protection to those who fall foul of them”.

Despite the attack being aimed squarely at the Russian government, even Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has expressed his disapproval of the extended trial, saying “prolonging their time in prison in connection to this case seems unproductive”.

Medvedev added “the time they have already served is, in essence, more than enough to make them think about what happened.”

Meanwhile, several members of the Pussy Riot collective fled the country after being pursued by Russian authorities, who continued the hunt for the remaining bandmates after the three members’ incarceration

Perhaps the most vocal and widespread support though has come through other artists, with legends of the industry such as Paul McCartney, Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bjork standing amongst those publicly apposing Russia’s severe punishment of the band.

Forthcoming Meredith Festival headliner Grimes, aka Canadian DIY artist Clare Boucher, who is of Ukrainian-Russian descent said that the court’s decision and the surrounding press means that “a lot of people are just realising now how fucked up Russia is… I’m not surprised at all that that situation is happening. I think it’s something that happens more than people know.”

In response to the widespread support, Pussy Riot pulled no punches in releasing a video both demonstrating their mission and thanking fellow musicians who have lent their support. In the video, which you can watch below, Pussy Riot declare, “The fight for freedom is an endless battle that is bigger than life”, before setting fire to the visage of Vladmir Putin himself.

Clearing unfazed by the severity of their situation, Pussy Riot continue to prove themselves amongst the most hardcore of modern political musicians, demonstrating music’s unparalleled strengths as a platform for activism.


Facing The Music: Banned Musicians Censors Tried To Silence

Facing The Music: Banned Musicians Censors Tried To Silence

Members of Russia’s punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to 2 years jail after performing in a Moscow cathedral protesting against the Orthodox Church leader’s support...


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