Pussy Riot t-shirt "exchange" deemed administrative offense
NOVOSIBIRK, October 17 - RAPSI. Artist Artyom Loskutov stated on Wednesday that a Novisibirsk Central District commission had declared him in breach of administrative law for "selling" T-shirts in support of Pussy Riot.
The commission has declared that Loskutov broke the law prohibiting trading in places that have not been designated for that purpose, the artist told RIA Novosti.
Earlier, he wrote on his website that he was "exchanging" - as opposed to selling - T-shirts in support of Pussy Riot for 800 rubles ($25.80), and the money would be donated to the group.
Police officers posed as buyers and bought two T-shirts from him. Upon payment, they produced their badges and then filed a report regarding the violation.
Loskutov was charged with unlawful business activity, which is punishable by a fine from 500 to 2,000 rubles ($16-$64.50). The authorities also found him guilty of trading in a place that has not been designated for that purpose.
Meanwhile, the artist insists that he was not selling the T-shirts, but rather exchanging them for money, which he believes is not a violation of the law.
In late February, five young women wearing brightly colored balaclavas performed a "punk-style" prayer at the altar of Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral. An edited video of their performance was posted on the Internet and caused a public outcry.
The Khamovnichesky District Court sentenced three Pussy Riot members to two years in prison on August 17.
Later, the Moscow City Court commuted fellow Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich's sentence from two years in prison to immediate release on probation due to the fact that she was detained by security prior to reaching the stage, and thus did not actually participate in the punk rock prayer.
The judge left Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's sentences unchanged.
Loskutov is a known vocal supporter of Pussy Riot. In March, images stylistically reminiscent of icons donning Pussy Riot-esque balaclavas appeared on light boxes on the streets of Novosibirsk. The images were in support of the arrested Pussy Riot band members. Particularly, one poster showed a haloed mother and child composition, with the woman wearing a Pussy Riot style stocking-mask. Law enforcement authorities identified Loskutov as the alleged vandal.
Loskutov also sued the Novosibirsk law firm Ryabinina, Zinovyev and Krestyanov in mid-August in defense of the Pussy Riot defendants.
In early August, the law firm filed suit with the Kuntsevsky District Court on behalf of three local residents, who together sought 90,000 rubles ($2,835) in moral damages for harm allegedly inflicted upon them by the band's performance at the cathedral.
The court has denied the artist's motion and will hold the next hearing on October 31.