Pussy Riot members win Strasbourg human rights court appeal

Treatment of punk band after they played song in Moscow cathedral in 2012 ‘disproportionate’

A member of Pussy Riot  runs towards Kylian Mbappe of France during the band’s pitch invasion in Sunday’s World Cup final in Moscow. Photograph:   Clive Rose/Getty Images

A member of Pussy Riot runs towards Kylian Mbappe of France during the band’s pitch invasion in Sunday’s World Cup final in Moscow. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images

 

A day after members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot received 15-day jail terms in Moscow for “invading” the World Cup final pitch , the band’s members won a series of legal victories against the Russian state in the European Court of Human Rights.

The Strasbourg-based court ruled that their treatment and sentences by the authorities were disproportionate to the offences of playing one of their songs – “Punk Prayer – Virgin Mary, Drive Putin Away”– from the altar of Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral in 2012.

Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich had been arrested after the minute-long performance, which they said was a political protest against Vladimir Putin and the collusion of the Russian Orthodox Church in his rule, on charges of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”.

The court on Tuesday found that multiple rights under the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated: imprisonment for two years for simply having brightly coloured clothes, waving their arms and kicking their legs around and using strong language, without any analysis by the court of the lyrics of their song or of the context of their performance, had been exceptionally severe.

Their right to freedom of speech had also been violated by the ban on access to their video recordings on the internet.

The conditions in which they were held, the court said, violated their rights not to face inhuman and degrading treatment – it cited the overcrowded conditions of the band members’ transportation to and from the courtroom to attend hearings and the humiliation of being permanently exposed in a glass dock during their hearings, surrounded by armed police officers and a guard dog, despite no evident security risk.

The court also took issue with the denial of right to bail and free access to their lawyers.

Four members of the band have been jailed for 15 days for disrupting the World Cup final by running on to the pitch.They were accused of violating the rules for spectators at sporting events and wearing police uniforms illegally. They were also banned from attending sports events for three years.

Pussy Riot said it was a protest against human rights abuses in Russia.