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Human Rights Commissioner appalled at extension of custody for Pussy Riot

20.04.2012 - Press release

Federal Human Rights Commissioner Markus Löning has issued the following statement on the extension of custody for members of the group Pussy Riot:

I am appalled at the extension of custody for three members of the Russian women artists’ group Pussy Riot.
The right to freedom of opinion and the effects of custody on the women, some of whom have young children, were not adequately recognized.
I share the opinion of Mikhail Fedotov, the Chairman of the Russian President’s council on human rights, who said that the principle of proportionality was not respected in this case.
I urge the Russian authorities to release the women without delay and to consider closing the case.

Background information:

On 21 February 2012 the members of the Russian punk artists’ group Pussy Riot performed a “punk prayer” entitled “Virgin Mary, redeem us of Putin” in a Moscow cathedral. A video clip which was subsequently published online shows the group dancing in the church and singing their protest song with their faces covered by colourful balaclavas. The performance ended after several minutes without any damage to persons or property.

Three members of the group were arrested and taken into custody a few days later, following indignant reactions by the Russian Orthodox Church and some Russian officials.

On 19 April their custody was extended by two months. Investigations on charges of severe hooliganism are underway. According to the Russian criminal code the women could face up to seven years’ imprisonment.

The authorities have justified their extreme response with the argument that the artists committed an act of religious hate. The German Government is in contact with the group’s lawyers via the embassy in Moscow and will continue monitoring the case closely.

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