×

Pussy Riot band member freed

Court upholds convictions for two others

MOSCOW — A Moscow court Wednesday freed one of the three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot.

Yekaterina Samutsevich was handed a suspended sentence and freed on probation, after winning her appeal against a two-year jail term for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

The court upheld the convictions of Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, both mothers of young children, who in August were sentenced to two years in jail for the band’s now internationally publicized “punk prayer” protesting against Russian president Vladimir Putin, and his close relations with the powerful leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Lawyers for Samutsevich successfully argued that she had not participated in the protest at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour cathedral last February, as she had been removed from the church before she could join fellow members of Pussy Riot. She was not, therefore, guilty of offending any religious beliefs.

Samutsevich’s decision to request new counsel to argue her case caused the appeal, originally scheduled for Oct. 1, to be delayed by 10 days.

The three women told the court they had not intended to offend Orthodox believers and that the protest was purely political.

During the 30-second action members of the group chanted “Mother of God, drive Putin away” amid chaotic scenes, as cathedral security men intervened to drag them away.

The women were arrested some days later after a video of the incident with a studio-dubbed soundtrack was released on the Internet.

Two unidentified members of the group who were at the protest but not arrested are understood to have left the country.

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova are now likely to be moved from Moscow to serve out their sentences in a medium security prison.

The plight of the women has focused attention on Russia’s human rights record worldwide. Amnesty Intl. has declared the women prisoners of conscience, musicians including Madonna and Paul McCartney have spoken out in their defense, and Variety included them in its recent Women’s Impact special issue.

Popular on Variety

More News

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • George RR Martin

    George R.R. Martin Says HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Ending Won't Influence Future Novels

    Geroge R.R. Martin is sticking to his original plan when it comes to the future of “Game of Thrones.” In an interview with The Observer, Martin claimed that HBO’s controversial ending for the series would have no affect on the endings of the last two novels. “No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t change anything at all,” [...]

  • Listen: 'Pennyworth' Producer Talks Delving into

    Listen: 'Pennyworth' Executive Producer Talks Delving into Alfred's Backstory

    Bruno Heller may have served as an executive producer on the Batman-inspired series “Gotham” for the past five years, but it’s actually real-life people (not superheroes) that intrigue the producer the most. It’s for that exact reason that Heller’s newest series finds him exploring the origin stories of Batman’s butler Alfred in the Epix drama [...]

  • "Trust Issues" - Dylan and Lizzie

    'Instinct' Canceled After Two Seasons

    CBS has canceled “Instinct” after two seasons. Series creator Michael Rauch announced the cancellation Friday on Twitter, writing, “I’m very sad to relay the news that @instinctcbs won’t be renewed for a 3rd season. We will double up this Sunday and our season/series finale will be Aug 25.” Rauch also thanked series stars Alan Cumming [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Woodstock Festival of Arts and Music

    As Woodstock Turns 50, the Fest's 10 Most Sacred Music Moments (Watch)

    Cars were left abandoned along the New York Interstate. Electrical and speaker systems fuzzed and popped. Amps blew then went silent. The rain was endless as the mud sank deep and rank. Young children ran naked and dazed through crowds of strangers. Food was scarce. Water, unclean. Looking back, Woodstock seems a more apocalyptic, than [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content