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Pussy Riot member freed on appeal; two others remain imprisoned

October 10, 2012|By Randall Roberts

One of the three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot was released from prison on appeal Wednesday, nearly two months after a Russian court found the band guilty of hooliganism spurred by religious hatred.  

Yekaterina Samutsevich was set free after proceedings at the Moscow City Court, where she and her collaborators had previously been tried, convicted and sentenced to two years in prison for their February protest in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow.

The band, whose interactions with the courts have served as a barometer for the notion of freedom of speech in President Vladimir Putin’s Russia, has become internationally known for its members' videotaped nonviolent incitement within the church’s sanctuary. Donning colorful knit face masks, the three danced in the cathedral while chanting protest lyrics.

Two other members of the group, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, remain in prison and are serving out their conviction. The incident has drawn worldwide attention, and artists including Yoko Ono and Madonna have spoken out about the sentence. 

Putin, however, said in a statement on Sunday that he believed the Pussy Riot members should remain in jail. "It is right that they were arrested and it was right that the court took this decision because you cannot undermine the fundamental morals and values to destroy the country."

Samutsevich’s defense team had argued that she wasn’t even in the church when the protest occurred. Rather, they claimed she was on her way to the cathedral when three Pussy Riot members protested as a way to draw attention to what they viewed as the increasing collaboration between the Russian Orthodox church and the Russian state.

Speaking outside of the courts on Wednesday, Samutsevich told the collected media that while she was relieved to be free, “I have mixed feelings. I’m happy, of course, but I am upset about the girls.” 

The remaining imprisoned Pussy Riot members have been sentenced to serve their time in a prison work colony.

ALSO:

Russian band's trial outrages musicians worldwide

Russian punk band found guilty, sentenced to two years

Prosecution of Russian punk band prompts benefit efforts

Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit

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