MOSCOW, August 23 (RIA Novosti) – Lawyers of the two jailed members of the Russian feminist punk protest group Pussy Riot are filing a petition to have their clients’ remaining jail time replaced with community service, a Russian daily reported Friday.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were sentenced to two years in jail last August for their February 2012 “punk prayer” in Moscow’s largest cathedral after an internationally condemned trial. The two women, who have been in custody since March 2012, are due to be released next March.
In the petitions obtained by the Kommersant daily, the attorneys say that the punk rockers were convicted for a “non-violent crime,” which makes them eligible for community service. The lawyers cite articles of the Russian Criminal Code that allow convicted criminals to do community service at a job of their choosing on condition that they give part of their salaries to the state.
A newspaper, an art gallery and a charity offered jobs to both band members when they applied to be released on parole earlier this year, the daily reported in April. Both appeals were rejected by city courts in the Mordovia and Perm regions where the women, who both have small children, are serving time in prison colonies.
Five Pussy Riot band members staged a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in February 2012. Having donned brightly colored balaclavas, the women knelt and high-kicked near the altar for about 40 seconds before they were apprehended by the church’s security guards.
An edited video of their performance was then posted on the Internet, with the feminist punk protest group’s song, “Mother of God, Drive [Vladimir] Putin Out” as its soundtrack, causing a public outcry.
The band consists of at least a dozen members who always go by monikers and perform in balaclavas. Since November 2011, the band has released seven songs that were posted online with music videos.