Siberian Pussy Riot supporter appeals fine for selling Pussy Riot T-shirts
NOVOSIBIRSK, February 12 - RAPSI. Novosibirsk artist Artyom Loskutov has filed an appeal against the magistrate court's verdict to fine him 1,000 rubles ($33.20) for causing religious offence by selling T-shirts in support of punk rock band Pussy Riot, Loskutov told RIA Novosti.
He said he filed the appeal because he believes the verdict wasn't justified, that his actions cannot be qualified as causing religious offense.
A higher-instance district court will hear the appeal.
On October 23, 2012, prosecutors in Novosibirsk initiated two administrative cases against Artyom Loskutov charging him with instigating religious offense by selling pro-Pussy Riot T-shirts. The first administrative case against Loskutov was heard by a magistrate court on January 31, 2013. He was found guilty and fined 1,000 rubles ($33). The court dismissed the second administrative case against Artyom Loskutov on Monday, February 11.
The case was closed after the court failed to find malicious intent in his actions.
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 location not zoned for that purpose.
The case was also 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.
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.
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.
In late February 2012, 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 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.