22 October 2014, 16:10
Constitutional Court turns down Pussy Riot member appeal against disorderly conduct qualification
St. Petersburg, October 22, Interfax - The Russian Constitutional Court has turned down an appeal by Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of the Pussy Riot punk band, against what she sees as the violation of her constitutional rights by Russian Criminal Code Article 213 Part 2.
The Constitutional Court published a relevant resolution on its official website on Wednesday.
Tolokonnikova, one of the participants in the so-called punk prayer at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, appealed the provisions of Criminal Code Article 213 dealing with disorderly conduct under which she was convicted in August 2012.
Tolokonnikova argued that this article disproportionately restricts the freedom of expression, qualifies the violation of religious standards as a violation of public order, and criminalizes actions merely based on their perception by the majority of the public as unacceptable.
The Constitutional Court noted in its resolution that freedom of speech always has certain limits indicated in the constitution and international law, and this fully concerns discussions on religious matters. In addition, the court pointed out that, in line with the federal law On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations, the state is supposed to respect internal rules of all religious denominations, it said.
If some actions are demonstratively insulting in nature and are devoid of any aesthetic or artistic value, they go beyond the limits of the lawful use of freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution, and in this case an individual can be subject to relevant sanctions, including those indicated in the Criminal Code, the Constitutional Court said.
Hence, the resolution says, the statute in question does not contain uncertainty either for citizens or for law enforcement agencies or courts, while the assessment of factual circumstances of a case is not within the Constitutional Court's purview, it said.
Tolokonnikova was released from prison in December 2013 in line with an amnesty declared by the State Duma to mark the 20th anniversary of the constitution. She had been found guilty of disorderly conduct and sentenced to 2 years in a general security penitentiary in August 2012 for a so-called punk prayer that five women from the Pussy Riot punk band wearing balaclavas staged at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow in February 2012.