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Freed Pussy Riot member has “mixed feelings” on release

By | Published on Thursday 11 October 2012

Yekaterina Samutsevich

Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich said yesterday that she had “mixed feelings” after being released from prison. As previously reported, Samutsevich had her two year prison term, originally handed down in August after she was convicted of ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’, reduced to a suspended sentence on appeal yesterday.

However, at the same appeal hearing her fellow band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina had their original sentences upheld and therefore will remain in prison, pending further appeals. Reuters reports that upon leaving the court, Samutsevich said: “I have mixed feelings. I’m happy, of course, but I am upset about the girls”.

She was freed after her lawyer successfully argued that his client had not actually performed the protest song carried out by other members of the band on the altar of the Russian Orthodox cathedral in Moscow earlier this year, because she had been held back by security. It was the performance of that song, which was critical of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, that led to the hooliganism charges.

In court the other two women argued that they should not be convicted on the grounds of religious hatred, as their protest was entirely politically motivated despite their choice of venue. Alyokhina told the court: “We did not want to offend believers. We came to the cathedral to speak out against the merger between spiritual figures and the political elite of our country”.

She continued: “I have lost all hope in our courts. We are in jail for our political convictions. Even if our sentences are upheld, we will not be silent. Even if we are in Mordovia or Siberia, we will not be silent, no matter how uncomfortable it is for you”.

Tolokonnikova added: “It’s painful for me to hear that I am speaking out against religion. I have no religious hatred and never have. We’ll be going to a prison colony while civil war is brewing in this country. Putin is doing everything to make this happen. He is setting people against each other”.

As previously reported, in an interview marking his 60th birthday, Putin told state-run TV channel NTV that the three women “got what they asked for”, adding: “It was right that they were arrested, and the court’s decision was right”.

After the hearing, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina’s lawyer Mark Feigin said that Putin’s comments had compromised the appeal, adding that his clients would continue to fight the conviction on procedural grounds.



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