Pussy Riot member freed on appeal by Russian court

Wed Oct 10, 2012 6:56pm EDT
 
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By Maria Tsvetkova and Nastassia Astrasheuskaya

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A member of punk band Pussy Riot was freed on appeal on Wednesday but a Moscow court upheld prison sentences for two others imposed over a raucous cathedral protest against Vladimir Putin, who said they had got the jail terms they deserved.

Yekaterina Samutsevich walked free from Moscow City Court after six months behind bars but the appeal judge who suspended her two-year sentence said fellow band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina should serve out their terms.

"I have mixed feelings," Samutsevich said outside the court, where she was greeted by applause and whistles from a crowd of about 150 people in the rain. "I'm happy, of course, but I am upset about the girls."

Samutsevich, 30, Tolokonnikova, 22, and Alyokhina, 24, were convicted in August of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for a "punk prayer" imploring the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin, and sentenced to two years in jail.

The case had sparked an international outcry, with Western governments and pop star Madonna condemning the sentences as disproportionate, a view not widely shared in Russia where public opinion was shocked by the protest.

Her lawyer told the court that Samutsevich had not performed the "punk protest" near the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral in February because she had been stopped and led away before it took place.

Samutsevich's father Stanislav said he would take his daughter away for a time to rest but that when she returned to Moscow "she will fight for the rest of the girls".

Defense lawyers, relatives of the women and rights activists including the chairman of Putin's own presidential human rights council, Mikhail Fedotov, welcomed Samutsevich's release but criticized the split ruling.   Continued...

 
Yekaterina Samutsevich (C), a member of the female punk band "Pussy Riot", walks after she was freed from the courtroom in Moscow October 10, 2012. Samutsevich was freed on appeal on Wednesday but a Moscow court upheld prison sentences for two others imposed over a raucous cathedral protest against Vladimir Putin, who said they had got the jail terms they deserved. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov