Former Pussy Riot lawyers' suit against Kommersant and new attorney postponed
MOSCOW, March 21 - RAPSI. On Thursday the Tverskoy District Court of Moscow postponed until May 20 the prehearing of the defamation lawsuit filed by former Pussy Riot lawyers against Kommersant Publishers and lawyer Irina Khrunova, who represented one of the punk group members at the cassation stage, the court told RAPSI.
Lawyer Nikolai Polozov said they decided to file the suit after Kommersant published an article entitled "A punk prayer can take you to Strasbourg."
Mr. Polozov said that the group's former lawyers were portrayed in the article as incompetent for failing to send the necessary documents to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on time, while in fact the ECHR had accepted their complaint and even assigned it a number.
The lawsuit towards Khrunova stems from her statement in the article that read "when the defense team filed the first complaint (to ECHR), the court asked them to send additional documents, but they did not submit them to court, so the application hasn't been even considered for review".
The plaintiffs have asked the court to have the defendants publish a refutation and pay them damages: with Kommersant Publishers to pay 500,000 rubles ($16,160) to each and Khrunova to pay 50,000 rubles ($1,616) to each.
In late February 2012, five members of the Pussy Riot group wearing brightly colored balaclavas held what they called a "punk prayer" in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. A video of their performance was later uploaded online and provoked a public outcry.
Police detained Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich. On August 17, 2012, the Khamovnichesky District Court in Moscow sentenced them to two years in prison for hooliganism.
On October 10, 2012, the Moscow City Court changed Samutsevich's verdict to a suspended sentence and released her immediately, based on her new attorneys' argument that she was seized by security guards prior to reaching the altar and therefore did not actually take part in the performance.
Alyokhina's and Tolokonnikova's sentences were upheld.