2012-09-03 10:00:00

Pussy Riot defense lawyers reject repentance proposal from TV program

Moscow, September 3, Interfax - The defense lawyers for the Pussy Riot band have said the request by the Man and the Law television program to have the young women publicly apologize to believers is "unacceptable" and "outrageous."

"We have discussed this situation with our clients, who like us believe that the young women have made sufficient apologies at the trial, having said everything they deemed necessary," Pussy Riot lawyer Nikolay Polozov told Interfax.

Last Friday the band's lawyers were contacted by authors of the Man and the Law television program, who suggested that the young women's lawyers make a public on-air apology on September 8, he said.

"Given the fact that in the last program about Pussy Riot our clients were portrayed unfavorably, we told the television program that we are ready to take part in the program provided that we agree on a script plan, in which case the program will have to pay us a fine if there is any deviation from the plan," Polozov said.

After that the lawyer was contacted by the program producer who said that television channels will stop the campaign against the convicted Pussy Riot members if the young women publicly apologize, he said.

"We consider it an unacceptable and outrageous blackmailing," the lawyer said.

The defense refused to take part in the program on these conditions, following which I received a call from its director, Denis Pimanov, who said that the formal request was posted on the program's website, he said.

"Demanding additional apologies" is unacceptable, Polozov said.

"The young women were convicted for something they did not do. First they put them into jail, then demand their apologies, wanting them to repent in handcuffs and on their knees," the lawyer said.

"Today they will apologize to the Man and the Law, tomorrow they will be asked to apologize to a kids' program," Polozov said.

All that is happening is a targeted pressure by the authorities on my clients through state-affiliated mass media, he said.

"We are still ready to agree upon a script plan. Otherwise, we will not cooperate. Our task is to get our clients out of prison, and not make appearances on television channels," the lawyer said.

The television program representatives have not commented on this information yet.

Meanwhile, a formal appeal to Pussy Riot was posted on the Man and the Law program's website on Sunday. The statement, which is addressed both to the band members and their lawyers, says that the program authors see a way out of the situation.

"If the young women are ready to make a formal statement (say, one that is signed by them and sounded through their lawyers) and apologize to believers on air on Channel 1, then the program is ready to make maximum of efforts to help stop attacks on the young women, given that the voice of our program is most likely to be heeded," the statement said.

Now is the time to look for a way out to stop this silly infinity, it said. "All this could end in bloodshed. We think you understand it just as we do!" the program authors said.

"We are by no means saying or discussing the young women's political views (they are entitled to say what they think fit). In our view, it is extremely important for public appeasement and reconciliation that they themselves make the first step and apologize to the believers. Our program is ready to support them and call from television screens for radical mitigation of the Pussy Riot verdict," the program authors said.

The document contains extracts from the laws of various countries, which impose a criminal liability for acts motivated by religious hatred.

On August 17 a court in Moscow sentenced Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Mariya Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich to two years of imprisonment for hooliganism after they staged an anti-Putin protest at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in February 2012. On August 27 the verdict was appealed. The protest and subsequent criminal prosecution of the young women caused a broad international outcry. Amnesty International named the Pussy Riot members Prisoners of Conscience.