Russian Press - Behind the Headlines, October 11

© Alex StefflerRussian Press - Behind the Headlines, October 11
Russian Press - Behind the Headlines, October 11 - Sputnik International
Lawyers Say Other Two Pussy Riot Defendants Could Have Been Released / Gala Records Wins Copyright Infringement Case Against VKontakte / Actress Marina Golub Dies in Car Crash


Lawyers Say Other Two Pussy Riot Defendants Could Have Been Released

Irina Khrunova, one of the lawyers for Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich and a representative of the Agora Human Rights Association, said that Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova could also have received suspended sentences on appeal.

“I cannot say how I personally would have structured the other girls’ defense, as I was busy preparing Samutsevich’s defense the whole week,” Khrunova said. “But the other girls could have received a reprieve, something could have been done for them.”

Chairman of Agora Pavel Chikov added that the previous group of defense lawyers coped very well with the tasks they were set – they were able to coordinate with their clients to create a huge public outcry over the case. Unfortunately, this tactic did not ensure a lighter sentence.

“You could have bet either on minimizing the potential liability of the girls or on maximizing the publicity surrounding the case,” Chikov said. “The lawyers for Pussy Riot, in consultation with their clients, chose the second option. The girls were in full agreement with this approach, and they were aware what they faced, but still chose to create maximum publicity, which they accomplished with great success. But it turned out that Samutsevich, for her own reasons, took a different perspective.”

“The new defense focused on Samutsevich’s individual actions,” Chikov added. “The Khamovnichesky Court officially acknowledged that all the girls were intent on the same thing, but Samutsevich did not actually participate in the ‘punk prayer,’ so we changed the style and format of the defense.”

Chikov added that the new defense lawyers faced a number of difficulties, they did not have much time and had to comply with Samutsevich’s “strict wish” – she refused to apologize for what she had done.

“It was more difficult because it was not about Samutsevich admitting her guilt,” Chikov said. “We had only seven days to prepare, including today. So we focused on the only chance for Samutsevich to improve her situation – without losing face, without changing her position or betraying her friends.”

The court's decision to change the sentence did not satisfy Samutsevich’s lawyer Khrunova completely, and she intends to seek a full acquittal for her client.

Farid Murtazin, another lawyer who defended Samutsevich, said that Samutsevich may even need personal protection. After she was freed, some detractors on social networks called her “a traitor” and condemned her desire to change the sentence.

“The situation is tense today, so security is an issue, but I think in a couple of weeks interest will die down and everything will return to normal,” said Murtazin. “She is not a stupid girl, she is a law-abiding person, she does not need to be told how to behave in public, and so on.”

After changing lawyers, Samutsevich’s defense strategy changed, and she was released on appeal. Moscow City Court judges suspended the two-year prison sentence handed down to her by the Khamovnichesky Court on August 17.


Gala Records Wins Copyright Infringement Case Against VKontakte

Gala Records, Russia’s first private music record label, has been awarded 550,000 rubles ($17,600) in compensation for the illicit use of its copyrighted material.

Russia’s largest social networking website VKontakte and the network of data centers Selectel, the leading provider of data center services in Russia, will have to pay the damages following the ruling by a St. Petersburg commercial court on a lawsuit brought by the record label accusing the social network of the illegal publication of copyrighted recordings by Russian singer MakSim.

Gala Records Deputy CEO Olga Kim and Viktor Naumov, a partner at Salance law firm which represented VKontakte in court, confirmed the news.

This is the second case Gala Records has won against the social network. Last February, the same court awarded the music company 210,000 rubles in compensation, also for MakSim’s songs, although the court agreed that Vkontakte could not be held responsible for copyright violations of users. The court ruling said that VKontakte could only be held liable if there was evidence that its staff had uploaded unlicensed content. VKontakte claimed that it only provides web hosting services for its users and that only individual users can upload potentially copyright protected content. Moreover, Gala Records has not even proved that VKontakte actually earned anything through using this content. However, the court awarded compensation to Gala Records because the social network failed to respond promptly to the numerous complaints it had lodged or remove the disputed content. All it did was block the search for this content by singer or track.

The court ruled that that was not enough, citing a recent Supreme Arbitration Court ruling in the Agava Soft case, in which the SAC recommended to lower level courts to find hosting providers guilty of copyright violation “in cases of passive behavior and public dissociation from the content published.”

It is difficult to say if the St. Petersburg court ruling was passed as a result of this recommendation, since its reasons for the judgment are still to be published.

The February ruling was upheld by higher courts of appeal. Gala Records has already received the compensation, Kim said, reinforcing the group’s position as the only content owner to ever gain compensation from VKontakte in court. The only other content owner who tried was the VGTRK TV and radio company, but in their case the primary court ruling was overruled after appeal.

Gala Records plans to file a series of other claims against VKontakte, Kim said. VKontakte spokesman Vladislav Tsyplukhin was unavailable for comment on Wednesday.


Actress Marina Golub Dies in Car Crash

Marina Golub, aged 54, an actress at the Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre for the past 10 years and TV host, has died in a car crash in western Moscow.

In the 20 years since graduating from the Moscow Art Theatre School in 1979, she worked for state concert agency Mosconcert, at the Theatre of Miniatures named after Arkady Raikin and the Moscow Jewish theatre Shalom.

Her long stage career should come as no surprise: Marina had a fantastic sense of humor, an open, positive nature and a talent for establishing a rapport with the audience. These qualities also explain her success as a television presenter, which brought her fame and popularity because she came across as a cheerful middle-aged woman who loved to talk and flirt, was well-intentioned, although slightly fussy, and had a ready wit to help soften life’s blows.

But there was another side to Marina Golub: she was a fine drama actress, something director Kirill Serebrennikov was the first to spot. He gave her a small part in the play “Play Dough,” which reintroduced her to the theater stage. As a result, Marina was invited to join the Chekhov Theater, where she played in other plays directed by Serebrennikov, including “Terrorism,” “Playing the Victim” (which was later made into a film) and finally as Celia Peachum in “The Threepenny Opera,” a role she pulled off with great skill.

Golub’s image as a grotesque TV actress who appeared in commercials and talk shows did not damage her theatrical career, as happened to many other actors and actresses. Marina seemed to use her TV appearances to build up the strength to make a breakthrough in the theater, something she achieved two years ago when she starred in a play by Lev Erenburg in which she played the role of Vassa Zheleznova, a rich and powerful woman who can adjust to any situation but finds one thing out of her reach – happiness.

This play finally revealed Marina for the talented actress she was, equally suited to both tragedy and comedy.

To theater lovers, she was not just an actress but a very important person: she exuded optimism and a powerful life force: she was a professional who faced the world with a smile, someone who attracted people and infused them with a zest for life in all its manifestations.

She watched more plays than any other of her fellow actors and was a more inquisitive spectator than theater critics. Whenever she had a free evening, she went to guest performances and theater festivals, often choosing plays that were the most difficult to understand.

The night she died she had watched “Mortal Engine,” which the Australian dance company Chunky Move showed on the first night of the 7th International Festival of Contemporary Art Territory, and also talked with friends about what she was planning to see next. No one doubted for a second that she also had big plans as an actress, one whose theater career was only beginning.


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