Pussy Riot: 'The Russian political system is afraid of truth'

Three imprisoned members of punk group say the Russian government is on trial at the final day of their hearing

Pussy Riot: 'The Russian political system is afraid of truth'

Photo: PA

The three detained members of feminist punk band Pussy Riot told a court yesterday that is was the Russian government on trial, and not them.

Their case, which has been seen as a watermark of the Vladimir Putin's desire to crack down on dissent in Russia, has attracted global attention, with Madonna throwing her weight behind the three women at her concert in Moscow this week, and a host of artists including Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos, Jarvis Cocker, St Vincent, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers backing their plight.

Speaking at the final day of their nine-day trial, band member Nadia Tolokonikovoy said: "This is a trial of the whole government system of Russia, which so likes to show its harshness toward the individual, its indifference to his honour and dignity… If this political system throws itself against three girls… it shows this political system is afraid of truth," The Guardian reports.

Tolokonikovoy is one of three members of the Russian punk collective – along with Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich - who have been in detention since their arrest in March following an impromptu gig at Moscow's Christ The Saviour Cathedral. The band sang a song called 'Holy Shit' as a protest against the Orthodox Christian church's support for Russian president Vladimir Putin. The three women face up to seven years in jail on hooliganism charges.

The judge at the trial, which has been dubbed by their lawyers as "one of the most shameful in modern Russia", set August 17 as the day she would deliver a verdict against the women. Prosecutors this week asked for a three-year sentence, arguing that the women were not carrying out a political protest, but set out to insult all of Russian Orthodoxy.

Pussy Riot member Tolokonikovoy spoke out against the charges against them, calling them a "political order for repression" and denounced Putin's "totalitarian-authoritarian system". "Even though we are behind bars, we are freer than those people," she said, looking at the prosecution "We can say what we want, while they can only say what political censorship allows."

She added: "Maybe they think it wouldn't be wrong to try us for speaking against Putin and his system, but they can't say that because it's been forbidden."

Pussy Riot member Maria Alekhina later told the court: "I am not scared of you. I'm not scared of lies and fiction, or the badly formed deception that is the verdict of this so-called court. Because my words will live, thanks to openness… When thousands of people will read and watch this, this freedom will grow with every caring person who listens to us in this country."

Don't forget to check out Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos' piece on Pussy Riot in this week's issue of NME, which is on newsstands now or available digitally.

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