Russian punk band Pussy Riot goes on hunger strike

 

Moscow

Three members of a punk rock group announced a hunger strike yesterday, in a case that is causing growing outrage in Moscow's creative and cultural circles. The decision to go on a hunger strike came after a Moscow court told them they must prepare their defence by Monday.

The trio, part of the Pussy Riot punk band, have been in jail awaiting trial for four months over a performance stunt in a Moscow cathedral. They face up to seven years behind bars if found guilty of hooliganism and have remained in prison ahead of the trial despite several offers of bail sureties and the fact that two of the three women have young children.

Protesters and supporters gathered outside the Moscow courtroom yesterday, where the defence was tabling a motion asking for more time to look at the 2,800 pages of case documents. "There is nothing in Russian law that could qualify these actions as criminal," said Nikolai Polozov, a lawyer for Maria Alekhina, one of the three, outside the courtroom. "The case is full of procedural violations and they are trying to speed up the hearing to ensure that we don't have time to respond to them all."

"The decision has been taken at the highest level that they should be kept in jail," Mark Feigin, another lawyer representing the women, said.

The charges relate to a "performance" in Christ the Saviour Cathedral, the biggest church in Moscow, when five women rushed to the altar and sang a song called "Virgin Mary, Chase out Putin!" in reference to the then-upcoming election of Vladimir Putin as President. Mr Putin has criticised the performance, which many have taken as a signal to the courts to impose a harsh punishment.

Over 100 Russian cultural figures, including some known for pro-government views, have signed a letter calling for the release of the trio. "We see no legal basis or practical reason for the further isolation of these young women, who do not pose any real danger to society," the letter said. Three of the women were arrested a fortnight later, while the other two are still on the run.

The Russian Orthodox Church has come in for criticism for not intervening in the case and calling for mercy. Instead, leading church figures have criticised the women and the head of the church, Patriarch Kirill, has claimed that the women desecrated holy relics during their performance.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before