Bomb Threat Interrupts 'Pussy Riot' Trial in Russia

World | August 2, 2012, Thursday // 13:49|  views

Member of punk-group Pussy Riot Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (R) is taken away after a trial session at Khamovnichesky district court in Moscow, Russia, 01 August 2012. EPA/BGNES

The trial of punk group Pussy Riot at Moscow's Khamovnichesky Court was delayed after the courtroom was temporarily evacuated on Thursday following a bomb threat, the group's defense lawyer Mark Feigin said.

"An anonymous phone call was made, saying there was a bomb in the courtroom," he said, as cited by RIA Novosti.

"The caller said there was a bomb in the room and shouted 'Free Pussy Riot!'" court press secretary Daria Lyakh said. The court room was searched, no bomb was found and the trial resumed.

Earlier one of the defendants, Maria Alekhina, called for the fourth time in as many days for Judge Marina Sirovaya to be replaced, claiming she had not allowed the defendants sufficient time to prepare their defense.

"The judge's prejudiced attitude is manifested in her unwillingness to create favorable conditions for the full participation on the defendants in the trial – the refusal to give them time to get acquainted with the documentary evidence, to rest and to prepare for the process," she said.

The prosecution opposed the appeal for the judge to be dismissed, claiming it was merely a stalling tactic to draw out the trial.

The Russian girls' punk group is on trial after five masked members of Pussy Riot performed a protest song entitled "Holy Sh*t" at Christ the Savior Cathedral's altar in downtown Moscow on February 21. The lyrics included lines such as "Holy Mother, Blessed Virgin, chase Putin out!"

Pussy Riot said the performance was a response to Orthodox Church head Patriarch Kirill's backing of President-elect Vladimir Putin in the run-up to his landslide March 4 election victory. The patriarch called the 12 years of Putin's rule a "miracle of God" in a televised meeting.

Yekaterina Samutsevich, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were detained in early and mid-March. All the three women admit being part of the Pussy Riot collective, but deny taking part in the cathedral performance. Both Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova have small children.

Amnesty International recognized the suspects of prisoners of conscience earlier this month, and a number of public and Orthodox Church figures have called for their release.

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Tags: Vladimir Putin, Russia, Moscow, Russian President, Patriarch Kirill, Dmitry Medvedev, Pussy Riot, Russian Orthodox Church, Christ the Saviour Cathedral


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