MOSCOW, July 31 - RAPSI. RAPSI is hosting a live text coverage of the heavily anticipated Pussy Riot trial as it progresses.
The hooliganism trial of three members of Russian punk rock collective Pussy Riot began Monday in a Moscow court in a case that has attracted heated controversy worldwide.
Group members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich remained in pretrial detention since their early March arrest for an incident that some have lauded as a valid exercise of free speech, and that others have lambasted as blasphemous. Group members face up to seven years in prison.
On February 21, five girls wearing brightly colored balaclavas stormed the altar of downtown Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral to perform an anti-Putin protest song entitled, “Holy Sh*t.”
Prosecutors have maintained that the Pussy Riot members "inflicted substantial damage to the sacred values of the Christian ministry…infringed upon the sacramental mystery of the Church… [and] humiliated in a blasphemous way the age-old foundations of the Russian Orthodox Church."
20:32 This wraps up tonight's coverage, but stay tuned for another live text broadcast tomorrow! Realtime coverage will begin at 13:00 Moscow time.
20:14 Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said that all of the testimonies were identical in one way or another.
19:49 The testimonies of two of the aggrieved parties are carbon copies of one another: they have identical paragraphs and even identical spelling errors, one of which was found by Alyokhina. Violetta Volkova believes it might be the reason to hold one of them liable for perjury. Besides, other materials totaling 100 pages were added to the case which indicates falsification and serious procedural breach, according to the lawyer.
19:36 Pussy Riot's defense team requested additional time to respond to the motion submitted by the prosecution. The judge, in connection with this, accused the defense team of sabotage and reprimanded them for it. Violetta Volkova's response that "God sees everything" elicited yet another reprimand from the judge.
19:16 Despite the fact that the hearing has lasted for more than nine hours so far, Maria Alyokhina has begun to actively question the aggrieved party about the aftermath of the performance, if she behaved somhow aggressively toward those who attended.
18:57 The ninth aggrieved party isn't saying anything new in principle. He is experiencing the same pain and suffering as the other eight speakers. Besides, he is speaking so quitely that the lawyers can hardly hear him, while the Pussy Riot girls complain that they don’t hear anything at all.
18:46 The Pussy Riot girls appear to be sleeping in the cage that they're confined to. During the course of the hearing, they mentioned not having had enough sleep more than once. They only spent three hours in jail before being woken early this morning to return to court (see 11:42).
18:34 The final aggrieved party, security guard Vladimir Potankin, has taken the stand.
18:13 A short technical break was announced.
17:46 Stanislav Shilin, another security guard (see 14:24), has taken the stand. Shilin said that he has remained unable to regain his composure in the aftermath of the Pussy Riot performance. "Now my condition is such that I cannot forgive them, and I do not believe that they are genuine."
17:41 Bailiffs pull out of the courtroom one of the reporters for breach of order.
17:36 The Pussy Riot defense team made an attempt to ask if a five months' detention is a proper compensation for the aggrieved party's moral suffering. The judge, however, dismissed the question.
17:29 Anasova burst into tears. She said that she will not file a lawsuit against Pussy Riot. "The Lord is not for sale. The money of Judas is something I don't need."
17:06 According to Anosova, some parishioners during the Pussy Riot performance became ill, some wept, still others took heart medication. Anosova herself has not yet been able to recover.
16:51 The seventh aggrieved party, Christ the Savior Cathedral maid Tatiana Anosova, has taken the stand. According to Anasova, she was shocked and insulted by Pussy Riot performance. "They actually spit in my face, my soul, and I believe - into the face of my Lord," she said.
16:35 Sixth aggrieved party Sergei Vinogradov has taken the stand. Vinogradov is the deputy chief engineer at Christ the Savior Cathedral. "I have heard the apologies, but I do not believe that they are sincere and I do not accept them," he said on the stand. When asked what a sincere apology would look like, Vinograd proposed that they could flog themselves with chains or repent in a monastary. He then clarified that the defendants won't do anything of the sort. Vinogradov admits he was impressed with the performance, however he witnessed only 15 seconds of it.
16:23 Pussy Riot lawyer Violetta Volkova blamed her tardiness on the fact that she had to go to a neighboring cafe because the court cafe was in poor condition. Still, the judge called attention to the fact that Volkova and the other lawyers were late.
16:09 The hearing resumed, but the Pussy Riot lawyers are absent. Yesterday they were given a warning because of being late.
15:58 In all likelihood, the court today will interrogate all of the agrieved parties. Four remain. It is possible that the hearing and our broadcase will continue until 22:00 Moscow time, as on the first day. Aside from the aggrieved parties currently in court, there are another 10 prosecution witnesses that remain to be called. The court will not be calling any defense witnesses.
15:25 A break for 30 minutes was announced after 5 hours of almost non-stop hearings.
15:09 In a show of tongue-in-cheek astonishment at Beloglazov charge that she offended the cathedral, Alyokhina questioned how one might apologize to a building.
14:52 Beloglazov has abstained from working in the church for two months because of a trauma. According to him, he is ready to forgive the Pussy Riot members, however he still has hard feelings. "I’m not seeking the most severe punishment for them, I just have reliance on justice and God," he said.
14:38 Beloglazov is explaining how the Pussy Riot performance occurred and how he tried to stop it. He explained, "They were dancing the cancan, waving their hands, and shouting swear words."
14:24 The defense team's motion for the judge's recusal was rejected once again. Sergei Beloglazov, the Christ the Saviour Cathedral security guard, has taken the stand as the fifth aggrieved party.
14:09 Pussy Riot's defense team reiterated its decision to seek the judge's recusal. They are seeking the judge's recusal based on her refusal to listen to Maria Alyokhina's petition stating that she was not given time to prepare for the proceeding (see 11:42). The defense team argued that the judge was biased, as well.
13:57 In the meantime, the atmosphere in the courtroom is rather tense. The prosecution is clashing with the Pussy Riot defense team, and bailiffs are clashing with journalists.
13:42 It was announced that the break would only last five minutes, but it has been about half an hour and the hearing has not yet been called to order. All are waiting.
13:29 The hearing will continue in a different, more spacious courtroom that was just freed up.
13:06 A short technical break was announced right before the Pussy Riot defense team was about to demand the judge's recusal based on their perception of judicial bias.
13:04 Pussy Riot's defense team took an interest in whether Zhelezov is able to forgive anybody in his life. He answered, "I am trying, but I'm not perfect."
12:52 Maria Alyokhina tried again to apologize. Zhelezov was confused, and lawyer advised him not to offer his forgiveness. Pussy Riot's defense believes that such actions violate the lawyer's ethical obligations.
12:31 Zhelezov is not going to file any claims against the Pussy Riot girls, saying that he doesn’t want any money from them. Meanwhile he stresses that there was no apology, actually. “They haven’t offered any apologies for inflicting desperate pain before me and a great number of other people, and I have nothing to do with their apology for the church procedures,” Zhelezov said.
12:12 Altar boy Zhelezov stated that the girls from Pussy Riot performed in an "unacceptable manner" and that it offended him very deeply as it showed cynical disregard for holy traditions. Musical instruments cannot even be brought into the church, let alone played there, he added. Zhelezov stated that the Pussy Riot girls made a mockery of the church, as they used sacred words in a blasphemous context. Zhelezov finds the term "punk prayer" unacceptable. "The pulpit and solea are not a stage for performances by actors and groups."
11:56 The next aggrieved party, another altar boy named Pavel Zhelezov, is being questioned. But the Pussy Riot lawyers are not listening, opting instead to discuss challenging the presiding judge.
11:42 Defendant Maria Alyokhina stated that she could not participate in today's proceedings. According to Alyokhina, she was taken to jail in the middle of the night and now she is tired. The judge did not regard her request and moved on to interrogate the next victim.
11:28 In response to a question asked by one of the lawyers, Tsyganyuk admitted that he had previously seen possessed individuals in the church. According to him, they behaved differently than other churchgoers. The judge intervened when the lawyer attempted to ask whether these possessed individuals were dancing when Tsyganyuk had seen them, and whether he recognized the girls from Pussy Riot as those who were possessed. The judge struck down the question because the witness lacks medical knowledge. The lawyers objected, stating that possession is not an existing medical diagnosis.
11:17 Judge Marina Syrova reprimanded the lawyer for the aggrieved parties. It was discovered that he had video-recorded the hearing. The judge reminded the courtroom that videorecordings of the proceedings are prohibited. The lawyer promised to erase the recordings.
11:06 Vasiliy Tsyganyuk has served as an altar boy for a year. According to him, no visitor had ever previously invaded the pulpit or the iconostasis.
10:54 Altar boy Vasiliy Tsyganyuk is now being questioned. He is answering questions in simple wording and is not embarking on any legthy religious discussions. The defendants offered Tsyganyuk their apology, and he accepted. At the same time, he said that an apology needs to be genuine - not just text read by a lawyer. In his opinion, forgiveness must be sought from God.
10:44 The Pussy Riot members wanted to file a motion, but the judge refused to allow it. According to the judge, the motions stage has passed. The aggrieved parties are now being questioned.
10:28 The defendants from the group Pussy Riot have been led into the courtroom. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich appear to be in good spirits today. The girls look good, cheerful, as they chat with their lawyers.
10:26 According to RAPSI correspondent Anna Shubina, fighting literally broke out in the courtroom. Approximately 30 people were left outside the door and were unable to attend the hearing.
10:15 Only ten journalists will be allowed in the courtroom. There is an enormous crowd in the corridor; it almost came to blows.
10:12 The courtroom has changed. Now, the hearings will be held in a smaller room with few seats for visitors. Yesterday the case was heard in the courtroom where the chief judge generally presides.
10:10 Pussy Riot members were brought to the court about half an hour ago. Reporters with cameras were banned from entering the courtroom. There are at about two dozens of journalists in the court so far.
10:08 The victims who were interrogated yesterday have arrived. It’s possible they’ve decided to attend all hearings.
10:05 There is less excitement surrounding the trial on its second day. The road leading to the court is blocked, but there are few police. Everyone was allowed in without issue. There are two protesters so far near the court.
10:00 Good morning all! Today at Moscow's Khamovichesky District Court will be the second day of hearings on the merits, and we invite you to keep track of the day’s events via our text updates, which will cover everything that happens in the court and procedural details. Today’s text will be administered by Anna Shubina, Ingrid Burke and Alexander Karpov.