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Pussy Riot sentence mitigation hearing - live updates

20:21 15/01/2013

MOSCOW, January 15 - RAPSI. The Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI) is hosting a live text broadcast of Pussy Riot member Mariya Alyokhina’s motion to have her sentence suspended due to the age of her young child.

LIVE UPDATES

17:07 As the masses continue to wait for Alyokhina's exit, it looks like tonight's Pussy Riot news is on its way out. We'll leave you here. Thanks for joining us today. Oh and in case you missed it in the background blurb, Alyokhina's Pussy Riot-mate Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has filed similarly for a suspension of her sentence until her young child grows up a bit. As Tolokonnikova is in Mordovia, a different part of Russia, the trial could take a different turn than today's. Thanks again and be sure to stay tuned for the ever-changing Pussy Riot developments and future broadcasts!

18:55 Alyokhina's mom tells RAPSI that the decision of whether or not to appeal this ruling will be sorted out with her lawyer.

18:52 What seems like the entire Russian press is gathering outside the courthouse now, waiting for Alyokhina to be taken to the colony shuttle.

18:48 The prosecution is thrilled.

18:45 Alyokhina has been in detention since March 3, 2012. She received a two year sentence. By our calculation, this means she has another 13 and a half months left in her colony.

18:40 As usual, Alyokhina has ten days to appeal the decision. According to the judge, the presence of a young child was taken into consideration by the court prior to rendering the sentence, thus this judge will not view it as a new mitigating circumstance.

18:37 Alyokhina will carry out her sentence in full.

18:35 Alyokhina's motion has been denied in full.

18:35 The judge says that the judge that convicted Pussy Riot of hooliganism last summer took the age of her child into account as a mitigating factor in assigning her sentence in the first place.

18:30 Back in action- the hearing has resumed!

18:25 We're now being allowed into the courtroom.

18:22 To prepare for Alyokhina's entry to the courtroom, the bailiffs have cleared the corridors and ushered everyone into a nearby room.

18:18 "We've got quite the situation here - it's like a college dorm. All we need is a guitar." - our local correspondent.... More than four and a half hours have passed since the hearing began.

18:14 It's already 9pm local time and no one knows when the judge will return, but everyone is eager to see how things will go for Alyokhina.

17:55 Don't worry - we haven't forgotten about you. We're still waiting for the hearing to reconvene. Representatives of all Russian media outlets are crowding the court's corridors, surrounded by fast food containers. It's a very attractive sight.

16:43 So, let's go ahead and take a break- but stay tuned and plan to meet us back here about 18:00 Moscow time (GMT +3) to watch the courtroom drama unfold....

16:37 In closing, she expresses her desire to "see a small miracle" in the courtoom today. The judge will now begin to deliberate. We expect to reconvene in an hour and a half to two hours.

16:35 Delivering her closing statement, Alyokhina admits that she doesn't foresee the court granting her request. She points to the recently enacted Dima Yakovlev law, which in part bans US adoptions of Russian children, to illustrate her lack of surprise that her child will be left without her.

16:29 Darova reiterates her stance that Alyokhina's sentence should be suspended until her child reaches the age of 14.

16:27 Darova retorts that her client is not a criminal and expressed her confidence in Alyokhina's rehabilitation.

16:26 He further charges that Alyokhina's parents have been primarily responsible for Filipp's care, and that Alyokhina's a bit of a leech.

16:23 He says that Alyokhina has not received any brownie points during her stint in the colony, and that its administration opposes a suspended sentence.

16:19 The prosecutor is finally taking the floor.

16:15 The judge has finished reading, and is now considering the various accounts of Alyokhina's personality, based on the views of both Darova (portraying her in a wonderful light), and the colony administration (again - prison bad girl).

16:10 In fact the court staff are beginning to file out, as the working day is over. The judge is keeping up the good fight, though, as she continues to read through the case materials.

16:07 The journalists are starting to lose their fight. Some are shuffling out of the courtroom, which has taken on the essence of a bureacratic, modestly furnished sauna.

16:02 It's already past 6pm in Perm - we wonder if we can expect one of those marathon trials that we endured during the initial Pussy Riot hearings last Summer. In case you don't recall, several nights trial would stretch on til 10pm.

15:58 But back to why we're here today - the judge is now looking at the case materials relating to Alyokhina's colony discipline.

Mariya AlyokhinaMariya Alyokhina

15:57 Getting back to your freshly enhanced cultural literacy, Perm is renowned for its colonies. The number of high-security colonies around here creates a bit of a stark picture. That reality is even reflected in the courtroom- all bureaucracy and modest furnishings.... everything covered in this sad shade of pale green. Oy.

15:48 In its likely panic over playing host to a Pussy Riot trial, the court has stocked up on way more than its fair share of bailiffs - they're spilling out of the courtroom and into the halls. We hear they've been shipped in from throughout the greater Perm area.

15:40 The section devoted to Alyokhina's present request has ended. The judge has now turned to the case materials, and is reading through them. At the moment, she's reading the original Pussy Riot conviction from Moscow's Khamovniki District Court.

15:34 Darova has moved on to a discussion of Alyokhina's best traits, as a student, a social activist, and a mother. She pleads with the court: little Filipp needs his mother.

15:20 Darova, Alyokhina's attorney, argues that the colony marked the defendant as a rule breaker. This was discussed in a report that the prison officials submitted. She seems to believe that the report reflects a certain bias. She argues that Alyokhina didn't carry out any of these actions to intentionally cause harm.

15:14 Alyokhina says that she has done all of these things, and that her family is currently fulfilling these roles.

15:12 The prosecutor is now interrogating Alyokhina about the way she has been raising her child. He's curious as to how involved she was in raising her child prior to imprisonment. Did her child participate in different classes and activities?

15:06 Alyokhina says she has undergone a great deal of stress since having been transferred to isolation for her "so-called safety." She charges that in fact, this was a means of provocation carried out by the colony.

15:05 Prosecutors object that the subject matter of Alyokhina's complaints don't relate to today's hearing. The judge doesn't mind - she's letting Alyokhina carry on. Now the defense attorney is examining Alyokhina, asking her questions about the colony reprimands.

15:00 Her complaints never really panned out. She didn't receive responses to all of them. She adds, though, that after the most recent round of reprimands, those in the prison began "smiling at her more often..."

Mariya Alyokhina at the hearingMariya Alyokhina at the hearing

14:56 She says that she disputed each and every one of these disciplinary actions, having filed appeals with prosecutors, the Federal Penitentiary Service, and the Ombudsman of Perm.

14:50 Alyokhina tells her that in all, she has received six reprimands during her time in colony due to having violated protocol. See? We told you. Prison bad girl.

14:45 Alyokhina has begun delivering her statement.

14:43 The attachments include details of the reprimands Alyokhina's picked up during her stint in the colony thus far. It's not entirely clear at this point how they relate to the situation at hand, specifically that of Alyokhina's young child.

14:41 Alyokhina charges that among the case materials, none of the documents she submitted to the colony administration has been included.

14:40 All is relatively quiet here as the prosecution studies the materials attached to the case record at Alyokhina's request during the recess.

14:30  Alyokhina and the lawyers have returned to the courtroom. The hearing has begun again.

14:15 We're expecting the hearing to resume at 14:30.

14:11 Despite the fact that a break's been called, none of the journalists are willing to budge from their seats in the courtroom. There is a very real fear that moving one inch will lead to seat-thievery.

14:07 Galina Efremova will be the judge presiding over today’s trial. The prosecution is represented by Lev Tashkinov, and the defense by Oksana Darova.

14:00 Alyokhina has asked for about 20 minutes to deal with a personal matter with her attorney. The hearing will be adjourned for the next 30 minutes.

Outside the courtroom Outside the courtroom

13:56 About 30 journalists have been refused admission to the courtroom, including our local correspondent unfortunately. For them, a lousy video feed has been set up just outside the courtroom.

13:50 The hearing has begun.

13:44 The bailiffs are warning that not everyone is going to be allowed in.

13:43 People are beginning to grumble about the level of organization of these proceedings. It's entirely possible that the court just had no idea of the gravity of the situation it was taking on in accepting a Pussy Riot trial.

13:38 Some journalists are already in the courtroom, while others are still just trying to get into the courthouse. The hearing has not yet begun.

13:35 While we wait, let’s reminisce about the past few months for Alyokhina. After her appeal was overturned and her sentence took effect, she was transferred to penal colony # 28 in Perm early last November. Since then, she’s established a reputation as a bit of a prison bad girl – having racked up reprimands for sleeping through the wakeup call, and again for refusing to get up along with the others at the scheduled time in the morning. She was then put in isolation due to her “complex relations with other inmates.”

13:25 Another fun fact, former Russian president Boris Yeltsin studied here.

13:23 Because RAPSI cares about your cultural literacy, we'll give you a bit of background on the local area. Bereziki has developed a reputation in recent years for its repeated attempts to literally move underground…. More on that in a bit.

13:18 The line isn’t getting any shorter. Overheard: “It’s not getting any warmer. I understand now why they sent ambulances here.”

Penal colony in Bereziki, Perm Region.Penal colony in Bereziki, Perm Region.

13:12 Be sure to check out our Russian broadcast here, if Russian’s your thing, and our Twitter page. You can keep up with the conversation using #PussyRiot

13:06 A few saintly grocers have taken pity on the frozen journalists and are passing around hot tea

12:58 The sea of journalists is slowly being admitted to the court

12:57 For a few more details, Alyokhina has filed her motion in accordance with Article 82 of the Criminal Code, which states that in cases where female convicts have children under the age of 14, the court may opt to suspend a given sentence until the child reaches the age of 14

12:56 It’s about -25c here today… 

12:55 Word around the campfire is Mariya Alyokhina has already arrived at the courthouse.

12:52 It’s a bit chaotic around here. The courthouse is surrounded by way too many journalists representing both local and national news agencies. Security is pretty intense – lots of precautions have been taken.

12:50 Good morning everyone and thank you for joining us! We hope you had wonderful holidays and are as happy as we are to be back covering Pussy Riot. Trial is set to being in about 10 minutes from the Berezniki City Court in Perm. We should find out today whether or not the judge will grant Mariya Alyokhina’s request for a suspended sentence due to the age of her young child. With you this afternoon are Irina Kuimova and Ingrid Burke.

Background

The hearing is taking place in Perm Region’s Berezniki City Court.

Details on Alyokhina’s claim, including how long of a deferment she is seeking, are unclear at this point – but RAPSI will fill you in on everything you need to know once the hearing gets underway tomorrow.

A similar claim was launched in November by Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, the other jailed Pussy Riot member. The claim is currently being processed by Mordovia’s Zubovo-Polyansky Court, and a date has not yet been set.

Five girls in bright colors and balaclavas stormed the altar of Christ the Savior Cathedral in central Moscow in order to perform a “punk rock prayer” shortly before the March 2012 presidential elections which would to return then-prime minister Putin back to the presidency. Dancing around the church’s sacred area, and executing a series of high kicks, the Pussy Riot members shouted requests to the Virgin Mary to "chase Putin out." Video footage of the incident was later posted online, evoking a massive public outcry.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested shortly after the performance. The three were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred in August and sentenced to two years in prison each. On appeal, a judge converted Samutsevich’s sentence to time served with immediate release after her new attorney argued that she had been detained by church security before reaching the stage, and that she thus had not participated in the punk rock prayer. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina are currently carrying out their sentences.

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Pussy Riot sentence mitigation hearing - live updates

20:21 15/01/2013 The Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI) hosts a live text broadcast of Pussy Riot member Mariya Alyokhina’s motion to have her sentence suspended due to the age of her young child.
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