AIUSA Calls Russian Court's Decision to Not Release Pussy Riot's Alyokhina "Disappointing"

Press Release
January 16, 2013

AIUSA Calls Russian Court's Decision to Not Release Pussy Riot's Alyokhina "Disappointing"

Human Rights Organization Calls Continued Incarceration Repression of Freedom

Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh@aiusa.org, 202-675-8579, @spksingh

(Washington, DC) -- Nearly a year after punk rock protest group Pussy Riot's performance at Christ the Savior Cathedral, a Russian prison court has ruled not to release jailed Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina until her young son comes of age.

"Today's ruling is yet another example of injustice compounded in the Pussy Riot case,” said Jasmine Heiss, Amnesty International USA's individuals at risk campaigner. "From the initial unjustified arrests, to the questionable trial, to an outrageous verdict, each step in the case has been an affront to human rights and freedom of expression."

Maria Alyokhina's attorneys had petitioned the Russian court to defer her sentence until after her child turned fourteen, as she is a single parent.

Three members of the group, Pussy Riot, were charged with "hooliganism on the grounds of religious hatred" after performing the protest song "Virgin Mary, Redeem Us of Putin," in Moscow's main Orthodox cathedral in February 2011. A Moscow court sentenced the women to two years each in penal colonies, a decision that Amnesty International describes as a bitter blow to freedom of expression in Russia.

While third member Ekaterina Samutsevich was released on probation after an October 10, 2012 appeal, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina having been serving their sentences in notorious penal colonies, thousands of miles from Moscow and their young children.

"The persecution of Pussy Riot has become a global symbol of President Putin's shameless intolerance for criticism and determined crackdown on freedom of expression and association," said Heiss. "These women have been sentenced for the crime of performing a song. Amnesty International calls for Maria and Nadezhda's unconditional release so that they may return to their art without fear of reprisal."

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.