The prosecution in the trial of three members of the Russian feminist activist group Pussy Riot asked the court on Tuesday to sentence each woman to three years in prison. The women are on trial facing charges of "hooliganism" [RAPSI materials] for their performance of a protest song in a Russian Orthodox church. The prosecutor told the court that he believed he had proven [RAPSI report] that the women were guilty of hooliganism and that the three-year sentence was appropriate. Defense counsel for the women said on Tuesday that they would appeal [RAPSI report] to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] about alleged rights violations that have occurred throughout the trial. The lawyers alleged that they have not been allowed to speak with their clients in private and that because each day of trial has lasted over 10 hours their clients have been deprived of adequate sleep. They also stated that their clients have not received hot food since the trial began, prompting an ambulance to be called during the third day of the trial after the women reported feeling ill. One lawyer said she considers the defendants' treatment to amount to torture.
The trial of the three activists has created controversy and has been criticized as politically motivated move by Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website; JURIST news archive] to discredit his opposition. This week lawyers for the women requested that the judge recuse herself [JURIST report] because her decisions were politically motivated. Judge Marina Syrova declined to hear the defense motion for her recusal and moved forward with the trial. The defense had also moved for the judge's recusal [RAPSI report] last week but that motion was also denied. The trial began last week [JURIST report].