Pussy Riot sentence unlawful, must be canceled – HR ombudsman Lukin

c57frian 01257847.hr .en  Pussy Riot sentence unlawful, must be canceled – HR ombudsman Lukin

The news about the ombudsman’s intervention came after thePresidium of the Moscow City Court accepted the appeal by the PussyRiot defense team, who continue to insist that their clients mustbe fully acquitted as their crime was of a non-violent nature andcaused no material damage.In addition the defense points to alleged procedural violationsduring the investigation and the trial process itself.This time, however, the lawyers’ claims are backed by VladimirLukin, Russia’s top ombudsman for human rights, who requested thatthe sentence be canceled.The punk performers violated no laws, only the internal conductrules of the Christ the Savior Cathedral where they performed theirmost famous stunt, reads Lukin’s address to the court, which waspartially reprinted by Kommersant daily.Such behavior cannot be considered a blatant violation of publicorder and besides, the prosecutors failed to prove that theconvicted girls were motivated by religious hatred, it reads.Therefore, Lukin concludes, the court verdict must be recognized asunjust and annulled.Russian law allows the human rights ombudsman to contest anycourt sentence or decision. According to Lukin’s office, itreceived over 50,000 requests for intervention in cases in 2011alone, but the ombudsman responded in only a few cases, sometimespressing for the reversal or softening of sentences.The head of the Russian rights NGO Agora, Pavel Chikov, toldKommersant that in his view, the letter from the ombudsmanseriously increased the chances that the verdict in Pussy Riot casewill be canceled or at least reconsidered into a softer one.In August 2012 three members of the ‘feminist punk band’ PussyRiot – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and EkaterinaSamutsevich were sentenced to two years in prison each foraggravated ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’ (later, thecourt changed Samutsevich’s sentence to a suspended one).The trial was held after the group held what they called a ‘punkprayer’ in Moscow’s main cathedral, chanting the song ‘Mother ofGod send Putin Away’, recording it and posting the video on theinternet.The process was initiated by believers who claimed the stuntseriously hurt their religious feelings. The girls denied allcharges saying that the gig was a political protest against theties between Russian authorities and the leaders of the RussianOrthodox Church.

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Pussy Riot sentence unlawful, must be canceled – HR ombudsman Lukin

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