27 June 2012, 10:23
Dozens of prominent culture figures call for release of Pussy Riot members
Moscow, June 27, Interfax - Dozens of prominent Russian culture figures have signed and open letter to the Russian Supreme Court and the Moscow City Court, calling for the release of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, members of the Pussy Riot punk band being prosecuted for disorderly conduct at the Christ the Savior Cathedral.
The letter signed by 103 people is published in the Wednesday issue of Moskovsky Komsomolets.
"The criminal case against Pussy Riot compromises the Russian judicial system and undermines confidence in the government institutions on the whole," the letter says.
"We believe what Pussy Riot did is not a crime. The girls did not kill or rob anyone, they did not commit violence, and they did not destroy or steal someone else's property. Russia is a secular state, and no anticlerical deeds can be a reason for criminal prosecution unless they fall under Criminal Code articles; we believe the criminal case against Pussy Riot compromises the Russian judicial system and undermines confidence in the government institutions on the whole," it says.
Over the time the performers have been held behind bars, "an atmosphere of intolerance has been growing in society, which is leading to its split and radicalization," it says.
The movie actors, moviemakers, musicians, writers and other prominent figures who signed the letter acknowledge that they have mixed feelings about the moral and ethical aspect of the performance at the cathedral in February 2012, but insisted that they do not see "legitimate grounds for and practical sense in the further isolation of these young women not posing any real danger from society, especially considering that two of them are young moms."
Moskovsky Komsomolets says the letter was forwarded to the Supreme Court and the Moscow City Court on Tuesday. The letter has also been posted on the Echo Moskvy radio website and is open to more signatures.
Among those who signed the letter are actors Oleg Basilashvili, Sergey Yursky, Yevgeny Mironov, and Chulpan Khamatova, moviemakers Eldar Ryazanov, Andrey Smirnov, Alexey German, Mark Zakharov, and Andrey Konchalovsky, writers Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Grigory Chkhartishvili, Dmitry Bykov, and Mikhail Zhvanetsky, musicians Yury Shevchuk, Polina Osetinskaya, Boris Grebenshchikov, and others.
Several Pussy Riot members, wearing masks covering their faces, staged an anti-Putin performance at the Christ the Savior Cathedral on February 21.
Soon afterwards, police opened a criminal case on disorderly conduct charges. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were arrested on March 4 and Samutsevich on March 15 as those supposedly hiding behind the masks during the performance. Moscow's Tagansky District Court on June 20 extended their pre-trial arrest at least until July 24.