'We're not going to stop': No let-up for Putin from freed Pussy Riot member

Russian media suggest that authorities are attempting to 'divide and rule' by releasing activist

Moscow

The recently freed member of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot has denied rumours of a split within the trio who stood trial and vowed to continue her opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, was set free in a surprise ruling on Wednesday, after she pleaded during her appeal that she had not fully taken part in the "punk prayer" that led to her and her two co-defendants being jailed for two years in August.

Maria Alekhina, 24, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, both had their two-year sentences confirmed by the appeal court and will be sent to prison camps in the coming days.

"I have mixed feelings," Ms Samutsevich said in a television interview shortly after her release. "Of course I'm very happy to be out and free, but I'm very upset that Nadya and Maria are still incarcerated."

After the judge ruled that Ms Samutsevich was released on Wednesday, she shared emotional hugs with the other two women, who appeared pleased to see her let free.

The Russian blogosphere, however, erupted in criticism for Ms Samutsevich and the Pussy Riot lawyers, with some suggesting that the ruling had been a cunning attempt by the authorities to create tension between the band members. "Which new game exactly have our authorities begun?" asked the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets on its front page. "Are we once again talking about an attempt to apply the time-honoured formula 'divide and rule'?"

Ms Samutsevich had fired her initial lawyers for the appeal and her new lawyer used a different line of defence, stating that Ms Samutsevich was stopped by security before she could properly take part in the "punk prayer". The judge agreed and commuted the sentence.

The three defendants have said all along that their brief February performance in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral was political in nature. They rushed into the cathedral wearing bright balaclavas and leggings, danced, played air guitar and later released a video of the stunt dubbed with lyrics criticising the Orthodox Church, its patriarch and Mr Putin. The court decided that the act constituted "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred".

Yesterday, Ms Samutsevich vowed that the controversial performances would continue, even though she risks having her suspended sentence come back into force if she falls foul of the law again. "Of course we are not finished, nor are we going to end our political protest," she said. "We have to make sure they do not learn about the concerts ahead of time, so that we won't be caught and jailed. We'll have to somehow deceive the authorities in a clever way."

Many have seen the Pussy Riot case as symbolic of a crackdown on dissent since Mr Putin returned to the Kremlin in May. Just before the appeal court sat, Mr Putin publicly praised the harsh sentence, saying the women had "got what they asked for".

Ms Samutsevich claimed the verdict had been handed down from above. "You can see the flaws of the judicial system in Russia," she said after her release. "It depends very much on the opinion and the stance of the President." She referred to the Russian justice system as a "mega-authoritarian project of one single individual".

The appeal judges took the unusual step of defending their verdict publicly yesterday and denied that there had been any pressure put on them from above. Larisa Polyakova, the presiding judge, said that while Ms Samutsevich was freed due to "her level of participation" in the "crime", the other two women still posed a threat to society. "The court has considered all the circumstances of the case and the level of danger to society."

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