MOSCOW, September 26 (RAPSI) – A Russian court on Thursday postponed until October 18 a hearing to settle whether Pussy Riot shock rocker Maria Alyokhina should be released early.
The hearing was postponed based on a prosecutor’s request, asserting that all of the aggrieved parties had not been duly informed of the upcoming hearing.
Defense attorney Irina Khrunova in turn asserted that there were problems with the assessment of Alyokhina that was provided by the prison authorities. Primarily at issue, the profile lacked an opinion from the administration on whether Aloykhina deserved early release.
In the Nizhny Novgorod court for what was meant to be the actual hearing on Thursday were Alyokhina herself – as opposed to via video link – her mother Natalya Alyokhina, Pyotr Verzilov – husband of jailed, hunger-striking Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova – and Yekaterina Samutsevich, who was initially convicted alongside Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, but who has since been freed.
At one point during the break, Verzilov and Alyokhina had a chance to catch up. Alyokhina told Verzilov that he looked awful, to which he responded that he only slept four hours last night. Quite the charmer, Verzilov added that Alyokhina looked wonderful.
In February 2012, five young women wearing brightly colored balaclavas staged a so-called punk rock prayer in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral. An edited video of their performance was posted on the Internet and caused a public outcry.
In August 2012, a Moscow court sentenced Alyokhina, Tolokonnikova and another Pussy Riot member – Yekaterina Samutsevich – to two years in a prison settlement on charges of hooliganism.
In October 2012, the Moscow City Court suspended Samutsevich's sentence and released her immediately based on her new attorneys’ argument that she had been seized by security guards prior to reaching the altar.
The sentences of Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were upheld. Alyokhina was transferred in August to serve her prison term in the Nizhny Novgorod Region. Tolokonnikova is serving her term in Mordovia.
Tolokonnikova has also appealed for a mitigation of the remainder of her sentence. Meanwhile, she has declared a hunger strike, demanding an investigation into alleged death threats by the prison’s vice warden. Authorities responded that Tolokonnikova had opted to go on the protest as blackmail after her demands to be comfortably accommodated in the prison were rejected.