Court pon­ders Pussy Riot mem­ber’s early re­lease

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

ZUBOVA POLYANA, Rus­sia — A Rus­sian court is to con­sider whether one of the jailed Pussy Riot band mem­bers is el­i­gi­ble for early re­lease as she has served a half of her two-year sen­tence.

Nadezhda Tolokon­nikova, who has been in cus­tody since her ar­rest last March, is serv­ing the sen­tence for the band’s ir­rev­er­ent protest against Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s main cathe­dral.

A court in Zubova Polyana opened the hear­ings Fri­day morn­ing as dozens of jour­nal­ists de­scended on this small town in the cen­tral prov­ince of Mor­dovia, home to a sprawl­ing web of Soviet-era prison camps.

Tolokon­nikova and two other fe­male mem­bers of the punk band were con­victed last year of hooli­gan­ism mo­ti­vated by re­li­gious ha­tred for an anti-Putin per­for­mance at Moscow’s Christ the Sav­ior Cathe­dral. One of the women, Yeka­te­rina Sa­mut­se­vich, has had her sen­tence sus­pended on ap­peal.

Tolokon­nikova, 23, dressed in a Soviet-style dark-blue prison uni­form with a white scarf around her neck, told the court that the prison colony did not sup­port her plea of early re­lease be­cause she “didn’t re­pent.” Rus­sia law does not make re­pen­tance a con­di­tion for an early re­lease.

De­fence lawyers urged the court to re­lease Tolokon­nikova so that she can take care of her five-year-old daugh­ter.

Au­drey Hep­burn

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