by Gareth Hughes
This week the trial of three members of the Russian feminist punk group “Pussy Riot” started in Moscow.
They may have been rude and they may have been offensive but the charges are clearly politically motivated and totally disproportionate to the offence. Amnesty International considers the activists to be prisoners of conscience and are campaigning to free them.
Today Jan Logie, Denise Roche and I paid a visit to the Russian Embassy in Wellington to hand over a letter saying:
Mr ANDREY ALEKSEEVICH TATARINOV
We urge you to pass on to the Russian Government our opposition to the current trial of political activists Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.
These young women are on trial, facing to seven years imprisonment for a political protest act.
While shocking and offensive to many inside Russia, we believe they were trying to make a legitimate political point in a climate of limited political freedoms.
We also note their concerns for a fair trial. Nikolai Polozov, one of their lawyers, has been reported as saying that there’s been a blatant disregard for due process, imprisonment without trial, refusal of bail; and a lack of time the defence has had to prepare the case.
We agree with Amnesty International that they are prisoners of conscience and we ask your Government to release these young women.