A court in Moscow has extended until 12 January 2013 the period to be spent in custody by three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot.
Federal Government Human Rights Commissioner Markus Löning today (20 July) issued the following statement:
“I am very shocked at the draconian extension of custody for the members of Pussy Riot.
The total period in custody of 10 months is out of all proportion to the accusations brought against the three women. It is absurd and causes grotesque additional suffering for the women’s families and children.
I call on Russia to respect freedom of opinion and artistic freedom. I hope the Russian authorities will at last release the women andconsider closing the case.”
On 21 February 2012 the members of the Russian all women punk band Pussy Riot performed a “punk prayer” entitled “Virgin Mary, redeem us of Putin” in a Moscow cathedral. Three members of the group have remained in custody since their arrest in March.
At the end of June, the investigation into the case was declared officially closed, and charges of “severe hooliganism” were brought against the women. According to the Russian criminal code, the women could face up to seven years’ imprisonment.
At today’s first pre trial hearing the court extended the women’s detention till 12 January 2013, bringing it to a total of about ten months.
The next hearing is scheduled for Monday, 23 July. No decision has yet been taken on when the trial will begin.
The German Government is in contact with the band’s lawyers via the Embassy in Moscow and will continue to monitor the case closely.