Pussy Riot members sue Russian government for human rights violations

Two formerly imprisoned members of the art-punk collective take the Kremlin to court.

Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are suing the Russian government over their imprisonment for a protest at a Moscow cathedral in 2012.

The activists argue that the prosecution of their “punk prayer” action, which led to them serving almost two years in prison and pre-trial confinement, violated their human rights. They are demanding €120,000 (£71,000) each in compensation, plus €10,000 in court fees.

The European court of human rights has previously questioned the Russian government on the case, suggesting that the harsh schedule of trial hearings and the glass cage in which the defendants were kept could be considered inhumane treatment.

Pavel Chikov, head of the human rights legal group Agora, which is representing the women, said: “They didn’t get fair trial here in Russia so they want to get it finally in the European court of human rights.”

He continued: “Plus they want this case to set a precedent that Russians can speak publicly on sensitive political issues, even if this speech is not supported by majority. This is a case about freedom of expression and fair trial first of all.”

Chikov added that he expects the activists to win the suit, after which they will attempt to overturn their criminal conviction in the Russian courts.

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were convicted of hooliganism and sentenced to two years in prison in 2012, but were released early as part of an wider amnesty that was seen as a public relations move ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics. The Olympics was also the scene of another confrontation with the Russian authorities, as Pussy Riot protestors including Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were arrested and later attacked with whips by Cossack militia. [via Guardian]

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