Pussy Riot’s lawyer: ‘Their trial is one of the most shameful in modern Russia’

'Even in Stalin's times, the courts were more honest,' says Nikolai Polozov

One of the lawyers representing Pussy Riot has said their criminal trial is one of “the most shameful” in modern Russian history.

According to the Guardian, the band’s counsel Nikolai Polozov has criticised the way the punk group have been treated by the Russian justice system and insisted that the courts were more honest “even in Stalin’s times”.

Three members of the band are currently on trial in Moscow, after Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested in March following an impromptu Pussy Riot performance at Moscow’s Christ The Saviour Cathedral. The band, who sang a song called ‘Holy Shit’ as a protest against the Orthodox Christian church’s alleged support for Russian president Vladimir Putin, could face up to seven years in jail on hooliganism charges.

Previously, one of the band’s other lawyers, Violetta Volkova, said that her clients were being deprived of sleep and poorly fed. Reports now reveal that she was involved in another row with judge Marina Syrova after she consistently refused to allow any objections raised by the defence and only allowed them to call three of their 13 witnesses. The prosecution’s witnesses, meanwhile, were all allowed to take to the stand.

Polozov also raised his objections in court, shouting: “Even in Soviet times, in Stalin’s times, the courts were more honest than this one”, and he later said during a break in the trial:

This is one of the most shameful trials in modern Russia. In Soviet times, at least they followed some sort of procedure.

A host of musicians have joined ranks to support Pussy Riot, with Johnny Marr, Alex Kapranos, Kate Nash and many other artists signed a letter calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to release the three detained members of the band. Putin himself, meanwhile, claimed earlier this week (August 3) that the three detainees should not be judged too severely for their actions.

Shortly before their arrest, members of Pussy Riot spoke to NME, calling Putin’s reaction to their church protest “childish”. “We knew what the political situation was but now we’re personally feeling the full force of Putin’s Kafka-esque machine,” they said. “The state’s policy is based on a minimum of critical thinking and on a maximum of spite, and a desire to get even with those who don’t please it.”