Defiant Pussy Riot tell court: we are freer than those who prosecute us

 

Moscow

The Russian punk band Pussy Riot gave impassioned speeches yesterday sharply criticising the court and the country's regime on the last day of hearings at their trial.

The three women compared their case to the show trials of the Stalin era and said that the "so-called court" could not destroy their personal freedom. The judge retired to consider the verdict, which she said would be handed down next Friday.

The trio face up to three years in prison on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, for an impromptu "punk prayer" performed in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral in February. The three women mimed a song for around 40 seconds, which was later dubbed with a soundtrack calling on the Virgin Mary to "chase out Putin", and uploaded to YouTube. They have been held in pre-trial detention for the past five months.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, read out a statement peppered with references to Socrates, Nikolai Gogol, Alexander Solzhenitsyn and the Bible. "We are freer than those who are prosecuting us," said Ms Tolokonnikova. "We can say everything we want, and they have their mouths shut, and are puppets."

"Spectators, we are not in the theatre," said the judge sternly when Ms Tolokonnikova's 15-minute oration was met with a round of applause. Defence lawyers say the judge has been biased from the start, rejecting their evidence, refusing to allow them to call witnesses, and ignoring blatant flaws in the prosecution's case.

"It was a small and ridiculous act that has grown into a huge thing for the authorities," said Maria Alekhina, 24, another defendant. "In a healthy society this wouldn't have happened." She criticised the Russian Orthodox Church for its unwillingness to offer the band forgiveness, despite their apologies.

The third defendant, 29-year-old Yekaterina Samusevich, attacked Mr Putin personally, saying he had realised his grip on power was weakening. The women denied that their performance had been motivated by religious hatred and said it was a political protest aimed at highlighting the Orthodox Patriarch's support for Mr Putin.

"When we talk about Putin we don't mean only Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, we mean the system that he has built," said Ms Alekhina. "The system does not take into account the views of the masses, and the views of young people in particular."

There is little doubt that the verdict will be a guilty one, but Mr Putin himself, when asked about the case during a trip to London to watch judo at the Olympics, said that the women should "not be judged too harshly", which has led some to speculate that Russia's notoriously pliant court system might hand the trio a short sentence.

View from Moscow: 'A stupid mistake'

Lidiya, 58

Beauty parlour assistant

I think they should have been pardoned. It was a stupid mistake, but they are young, and you can't punish people who have young children so severely. The church should be forgiving.

Dmitry Romanchuk, 36

Company director

They should be punished, but not with a jail term. I'm not religious but I don't think they should go unpunished for going into church and doing something like that.

Katya Smirnova, 38

Translator

The louder their case becomes, the clearer it is that the fight is much bigger than just a punk song in a church. They don't deserve what the powers are trying to push on them.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam