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PES Women denounce the Pussy Riot verdict in Russia

Pussy Riot

On Friday 17 August three of the Pussy Riot members, Maria Alekhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23 and Ekaterina Samucevich, 29 were sentenced to two years of jail by the Moscow's Khamovnichesky District Court. I want to denounce this verdict, which is unfair and highly political. This case shows one more time that the separation of powers does not really exist in Russia, where the judiciary is still highly influenced by politics and the Church.

The Russian feminist performance art group has been charged with hooliganism “motivated by religious hatred” after having performed a punk prayer in Moscow Cathedral called “Our Lady, chase Putin out”. 

While the punk lady band has always performed pacific art performances with the aim to advocate for gender equality and freedom of expression and to stand against the threats on democratic values in Russia today, I would nevertheless like us to reflect upon some of their action, which might be questioned with respect to feminist values and empowerment of women.

It is clear that they are very harshly treated based on their self-proclaimed feminist position even though the female judge has recalled that “men and women have equal rights and freedoms under Russian constitution”. And the witch-hunt unfortunately continues in Russia as other members of the group are being pursued by the Russian police. We observe the same worrying trend in Ukraine, where Inna Shevchenko, a member of the Ukrainian feminist group FEMEN, risks to be convicted of hooliganism after she chopped down a big Christian cross in the centre of Kiev to protest against the Pussy Riot’s sentence. 

With this case the Russian government shows its true face; there is still a long way to go before the fundamental freedoms are guaranteed in Russia, as they should be in a democracy. PES Women therefore joins the long list of supporter of the members of Pussy Riot and call for the invalidation of the sentence in the appeal trial. I strongly back the S&D statement; the European Parliament cannot remain silent. We, as Progressives and Feminists, should all be united to call on the Russian justice and on the Russian authorities to respect the rule of law and do not interfere in each other’s decisions.

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