Pussy Riot prisoners sack lawyers who 'cashed in on fame'

Legal team hit back by claiming that freed member of activist trio is a Kremlin collaborator

Moscow

The jailed members of the punk group Pussy Riot have parted company with their lawyers in a rancorous split that has seen the legal team claim that the freed member of the group, Ekaterina Samutsevich, is a Kremlin collaborator, while she has claimed the lawyers are trying to profit from the band's notoriety.

The trio burst into Moscow's biggest cathedral in February wearing bright balaclavas and mimed a song entitled "Virgin Mary, kick out Putin". Over the summer, Ms Samutsevich, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina were found guilty of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" and jailed for two years.

They have become renowned across the world, and Ms Samutsevich says that the wife of one of the lawyers had registered "Pussy Riot" as a trademark in the hope of cashing in on the group's notoriety. She also accused the lawyers of taking her passport and keys and not returning them.

Ms Samutsevich had already parted company with her initial lawyers after the first verdict. At an appeal hearing, she announced unexpectedly that she wanted to change lawyers, and made a new argument that she had not actually been properly involved in the stunt. As a result, she was freed, while Ms Tolokonnikova and Ms Alekhina had their two-year sentences kept in force.

This week, it became clear that the other two women were also parting company with the lawyers. Initially, one of the lawyers, Nikolai Polozov, said that he and two colleagues were leaving the case by mutual agreement with their clients, because the lawyers have developed too much of a media profile and were harming the two women in prison. The other two women will now be represented by Irina Khrunova, Ms Samutsevich's lawyer during the appeal.

Yesterday, however, the lawyers implicated Ms Samutsevich in a campaign organised by the Kremlin to discredit them. "Samutsevich's lies, published by the media, are one of the elements of the agreement she made to remove herself from the case," wrote Mr Polozov on his Twitter feed yesterday. Ms Samutsevich has denied ever making any deal to ensure her release.

"Her personal issues are being used as a device to discredit the lawyers. The only people to benefit are the authorities," claimed Mr Polozov. Mark Feigin, another of the lawyers, admitted that his wife had registered a company to use the Pussy Riot trademark, but said that this had been done with the agreement of the three women. Ms Samutsevich has said that the group never gave their authorisation to use the Pussy Riot name as a way to make money.

The case has made huge waves internationally, which has irritated the Kremlin. When Madonna spoke out in favour of the group during a concert in Moscow, the Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin, called her a "whore".

When Angela Merkel raised the case during a visit to Moscow last week, Mr Putin claimed that the trio had been involved in anti-Semitic stunts, in an apparent attempt to shame the German Chancellor into keeping quiet about the case. "Neither we, nor you, can support people with anti-Semitic views," Mr Putin said, telling Ms Merkel that the band had been involved in performing a mock hanging on an effigy of a Jew.

The Russian President was apparently referring to a 2008 stunt by the art group Voina which satirised the discrimination faced by ethnic minorities in Russia.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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