A member of the female punk group Pussy Riot has accused the Moscow court hearing their trial of torture. Maria Alyokhina claims the court allows them no time to eat, rest, or prepare for the appearances in court.
Three members of Riot Pussy are currently on trial on charges of hooliganism following a controversial performance in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral in February. The group sang “Holy S**t,” which contained the lyrics “Virgin Mary, drive Putin out!” as political opposition to the Russian Church's support for the presidential campaign of Vladimir Putin.
The women have described their "punk prayer" as an "ethical mistake." However, enRian reports Russian prosecutors are pursing the charges vigorously, saying the group “insulted in a sacrilegious manner the centuries-old foundations of the Russian Orthodox Church” by performing a “blasphemous” song in the cathedral." The group maintain that the Church is putting pressure on the prosecution.
Group members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, have been held in custody for five months pending the trial. The Moscow Times reported that the defendants asked Judge Marina Syrova to interrupt the first day of the trial as they had been deprived of sleep and food, but their request was denied.The judge only considered the request when the defendants' lawyer threatened to request that Syrova was replaced.
If found guilty, the three women face prison sentences of seven years. Human rights organisations have appealed to Russia for clemency, labelling the women 'prisoners of conscience."
At the weekend a member of the Ukrainian activist group FEMEN received a 15-day prison sentence for baring her breasts before the Russian Patriarch Kirill, in a political protest against the arrest and detention of members of Riot Pussy.