July 20, 2012 20:52
Pussy Riot members to stay in custody until 2013
The three members of the Russian punk band will be locked up for a further six months
Three members of the band have been in pre-trial detention since March of this year, after they staged a protest against Russian President Vladmir Putin.
Earlier this month, jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova declared a hunger strike against a Moscow court. The Moscow Times wrote that Tolokonnikova was unhappy that she was given until only July 9 to prepare a defence against the charges levelled at her by prosecutors.
Last month it was reported that Tolokonnikova and her bandmates Maria Alekhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, must remain imprisoned while undergoing investigation by the police for their "punk prayer" against Putin.
They face up to seven years in jail on hooliganism charges after they were arrested following an impromptu performance at Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral, where they sang a song called 'Holy Shit' as a protest against the Orthodox Christian church's alleged support for Putin. Although Putin regained power in the last Russian election, the verdict has been marred by accusations of fraud by his competitors.
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."
Amnesty International have called for the release of band members, arguing that they were "prisoners of conscience" and accused the Russian government of punishing them for the "broader political context" of their actions, rather than the actions themselves.
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