Published: 17 Jul 2018 | By Olga Okhotnikova
Mariya Alekhina and others (Pussy Riot) v Russia
Case No. 38004/12
Date of Judgment: 17 July 2018
The applicants – Mariya Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich – are members of Pussy Riot, a Russian feminist punk band critical of the Kremlin and its connections with the Orthodox church. On 21 February 2012, five members of the band attempted to perform a protest song called ‘Punk Prayer – Virgin Mary, Drive Putin Away’ in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral. The applicants were arrested and charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after cathedral staff members and guards complained. The District Court in Moscow concluded that the performance was motivated by religious intolerance, rather than discontent with the political climate in Russia, sentencing the applicants to two years in prison. Additionally, online access to a recording of the performance was restricted on the grounds of it being “extremist”. Ms. Samutsevich’s sentence was replaced with probation, and the other two applicants were released on 23 December 2013 under a general amnesty on the twentieth anniversary of the Russian Constitution.