MOSCOW, August 8 – RAPSI. RAPSI resumes its live English-language coverage of the Pussy Riot trial as closing arguments begin on Wednesday, on the eighth day of hearings on the merits.
13:08 That's all for today. Thanks for being with us and follow our newswire.
13:06 On her way out of the courtroom, defense attorney Violetta Volkova said that the Pussy Riot trial will go down in history, like the trial of Russian revolutionary Vera Zasulich.
13:02 The verdict will be announced on August 17th at 3pm Moscow time (GMT +4). The Pussy Riot girls were escorted from the courtroom to resounding applause.
12:57 Applause again erupted when she concluded her statement.
12:56 Yekaterina Samutsevich has begun her statement. She said that Orthodox culture is not possessed exclusively by the patriarch. She then noted that she expects to be convicted. She says that she has mixed feelings.
12:55 Once again, the courtroom erupted in applause. And once again, the judge called the audience to order.
12:50 Like Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina reminded the court of the Soviet dissidents, and of the terror of the 1930s political purges.
12:47 According to Alyokhina, she has come to realize that prison is a microcosm of Russia: in the detention center, everyone aspires toward depersonification, and narcs are welcomed. "Under these conditions, people begin to accept the bare minimum."
12:43 She says that people are taught to live on auto-pilot, and that they are innoculated from a young age with cruelty toward and intolerance of dissent.
12:39 Maria Alyokhina is now speaking. She believes that the authorities fail to take into account the views of younger generations. According to her, there is no individualized approach to the formal educational process. The education system lacks any profound study of the foundations of civil society.
12:37 Applause erupted as Tolkonnikova concluded her statement. The judge interrupted the resounding applause, noting that this is a courtroom, not a theater.
12:36 Tolokonnikova finished her closing arguments by quoting the Pussy Riot lyrics: "Open the doors, remove the straps, and feel the air of freedom with us."
12:29 She says that one can be extremely culturally refined, highly educated, but can still lack basic personhood. Tolokonnikova recalls that the dissidents who have been imprisoned and hospitalized still did not give up. She is reciting the words of renowned Russian poet and philosopher Alexander Vvedensky, and drawing parallels between the present proceedings and Stalin's 1937 show trials.
12:19 Tolokonnikova mentioned that Madonna expressed support for Pussy Riot at her concert in Moscow last night. She is thankful for the support of believers.
12:14 The hearing has started with Nadezhda Tolkonnikova's closing argument. According to her, Pussy Riot's punk rock prayer was a justifiable political statement. Tolokonnikova believes that Pussy Riot's body of supporters is rapidly growing in size. She expressed her gratitude to all for their support.
A video broadcast of the hearing has begun on RAPSI's Russian-language site.
11:59 All interested parties to the proceedings are now in the courtroom, waiting for the judge.
11:54 The bailiffs have already managed to issue three warnings about the current prohibition on photography and video-recording equiment. Defense attorney Mark Feigin is chatting with the Pussy Riot girls, who are smiling and joking around.
11:47 The RAPSI correspondent has finally made it into the courtroom. It only took an hour to get there.
11:36 Defense attorney Nikolai Polozov doesn't expect the verdict to be handed down today.
11:25 Today it was discovered that the first civil lawsuit has been filed in connection with the Pussy Riot incident. A woman from Novosibirsk seeks to recover 30,000 rubles (appr. $1,000) from the group for damages she incurred as a result of their Christ the Savior Cathedral performance. She claims to have suffered emotional distress as a result of having watched video footage of the event online.
11:20 Even more people than usual are trying to get into the courtroom today. A crowd that has formed 100 meters from the courthouse is being held back by a fence. So far only journalists have been allowed past. The others need to stand in line for the next 20 minutes.
11:16 Good morning! RAPSI is resuming its coverage of the Pussy Riot trial. Today we are expecting to hear the aggrieved parties' closing arguments and to find out when the defendants' sentences will be handed down. Lyubov Shirishik, Ingrid Burke, and Vladimir Yaduta will be keeping you up to date throughout the day.
Day seven has centered primarily on the prosecution’s sentencing request. The prosecution officially requested that the Pussy Riot girls be sentenced to three years in prison each on hooliganism charges. Viewing the punk prayer as both premeditated and deeply offensive to Orthodoxy, the prosecutor argued that it was necessary for the band members to spend “real time” behind bars.
Attorneys for the aggrieved parties agreed with the sentence as requested by the prosecution, but noted that one of the aggrieved parties believed that the girls should only face two years of probation, in order to allow the mothers among them to reunite with their young children as quickly as possible.
Both attorneys for the aggrieved parties focused acutely on the damage done to religious sanctity by virtue of the prayer. Attorney Larisa Pavlova viewed the girls’ fist-pumping during the performance as blatantly insulting to believers. After criticizing Tolokonnikova’s life choices and Alyokhina’s university curriculum, she appealed to the judge to issue a mandate requiring universities to take preventative measures in order to ensure against the future commission of acts of hooliganism at the hands of their students. Her co-counsel, Lev Lyalin, lamented the act as one of nihilism, and recommended Nietzsche as a means of better understanding the Cathedral incident.
Defense attorneys Violetta Volkova and Mark Feigin did little to hide their disgust, both with the prosecution’s request and with the trial as a whole.
Volkova proclaimed her intention to appeal the conviction pending against the girls to the European Court of Human Rights, and lambasted the prosecution for failing to uphold its duty to promote justice above all else. Feigin criticized the political nature of the proceedings and the blurring line between church and state. He warned that the girls’ conviction would be Russia’s first step back into the Middle Ages.
The sixth day of proceedings revolved heavily around the ongoing sparring between the defense, who wanted to submit various motions, and the judge, who did not want to accept said motions. This trend has endured throughout the course of the trial. The status quo was shaken a bit however by the arrival of British Member of Parliament (MP) Kerry McCarthy, who remained in attendance during today’s proceedings.