Zealous Siberian Pussy Riot activist acquitted
NOVOSIBIRSK, February 11 - RAPSI. A magistrate's court in Novosibirsk has acquitted a local artist accused of insulting the feelings of believers, the artist told RIA Novosti on Monday.
The court closed the second administrative case against Artyom Loskutov on Monday.
The case was opened against the artist for selling "Support Pussy Riot" T-shirts, and closed after the court failed to find malicious intent in his actions.
The first administrative case against Loskutov was heard by another magistrate's court on January 31 that indicted him and imposed on him a 1,000-ruble ($33) fine. On October 23, prosecutors in Novosibirsk initiated two administrative cases against Loskutov for causing religious offense by selling pro-Pussy Riot T-shirts.
Loskutov was also charged with engaging in unlawful business activities, which is punishable by a fine ranging from 500 to 2,000 rubles ($16.60-$66.40), and with engaging in business in a place that was not designated for that purpose.
The case was closed on February 6 for lack of malicious intent.
Loskutov is a vocal supporter of Pussy Riot. In March, icon-style images of figures in Pussy Riot-esque balaclavas were put up on the streets of Novosibirsk. One poster showed a haloed mother and child, with the mother figure wearing a Pussy Riot-style mask. Law enforcement authorities believe Loskutov was responsible for the images.
Loskutov has stated on his website that he was "exchanging" - as opposed to selling - T-shirts in support of Pussy Riot for 800 rubles ($25.70), and planned to donate the money to the group. He added that this was not a violation of the law.
Police officers posing as buyers bought two T-shirts from him. Upon payment, they produced their badges and then filed a report regarding the violation. In late February, five young women wearing brightly colored balaclavas performed a "punk-style" prayer at the altar of the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. An edited video of their performance was posted online and caused a public outcry.
The Khamovniki District Court sentenced three Pussy Riot members to two years in prison on August 17.
Later, the Moscow City Court commuted the sentence handed down to Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich from two years in prison to immediate release on probation, due to the fact that she had been detained by security prior to reaching the stage, and thus did not actually participate in the punk rock prayer.
The judge left the sentences of the other Pussy Riot members, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, unchanged.