Pussy Riot Member Maria Alekhina Denied Parole

Pussy Riot Member Maria Alekhina Denied Parole
Once again, incarcerated Pussy Riot member Maria Alekhina has had her appeal for parole denied.

Having already served a year and a half of her two-year sentence over "hooliganism on grounds of religious hatred," Alekhina faced a Russian court via video link today (July 24), pleading for an early release to take care of her five-year-old son. The three judge panel at the Regional Court in Perm upheld the previous parole denial made last January on the counts that they had already considered those circumstances.

Earlier this year, Alekhina had staged an 11-day hunger strike to protest not being able to attend her parole hearing in person, but was unsuccessful with her drive. She brought up the issue again during her hearing today.

Shortly after the court's decision was made, Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director Denis Krivosheev responded with the following critique:

This decision is a further confirmation that the Russian authorities are uncompromising in their suppression of freedom of expression.

Today's court decision is meant to intimidate further free speech. It may be presented as principled but it reveals a trend of bullying critics in spite of the country's obligations to defend and promote human rights.

Maria Alekhina and the other two punk singers shouldn't have been arrested in the first place. They were deprived of their freedom solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs and Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience.

The Russian authorities must release Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova immediately and unconditionally and the sentences against them and Ekaterina Samutsevich should be overturned.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova will have her own appeal hearing this Friday (July 26) at the Supreme Court of the Republic of Mordovia, where she is serving her sentence.

As previously reported, Yekaterina Samutsevich's two-year jail sentence was suspended last October when her lawyer successfully argued that she had been thrown out of the church before the band's punk protest protest performance at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral that took place in February 2012.