Freed Russia feminist band member submits complaint to Europe rights court

[JURIST] The recently freed member of the controversial Russian feminist rock collective Pussy Riot [RASPI backgrounder; JURIST news archive] announced Friday that she has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights [official website]. Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, is claiming [RAPSI report] violations of her right to freedom of speech and that she was illegally detained and prosecuted as one of three band members sentenced to two years in prison [JURIST report] for hooliganism in connection with a "guerrilla performance" of a protest song in February at the altar of downtown Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral. She maintains that her sentence was a breach of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights [materials]. Since the beginning of the trial [JURIST report], the group's lawyers and human rights groups have said the charges were politically motivated by President Vladimir Putin [official website; JURIST news archive] to discredit his opposition. The two other detained members of the band, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, had also appealed, but the Moscow City Court [official website, in Russian] upheld their two-year prison sentences.

Samutsevich was freed [JURIST report] earlier this month. Claiming her situation within the appeal was unique because she did not perform, Samutsevich had previously asked for a delay in the proceedings after firing the lawyer [JURIST report] that had been representing the band as a whole. Several days prior to the trial Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev [official website, in Russian] called for the release of the band members, saying that time served has been severe enough and that any more time in prison would be counterproductive. The Russian Presidential Council on Human Rights [official website, in Russian] has questioned the legitimacy [JURIST report] of the court's verdict and sentence. Pussy Riot's defense lawyers moved [JURIST report] earlier in August to have one of the judges recuse herself from the case, saying her decisions were politically motivated.

 

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