Pussy Riot-medlem Nadezhda Tolokonnikova «forsvunnet»

Norsk PEN har i dag sendt følgende brev til president Putin:

13. November 2013

President Vladimir Putin
23, Ilyinka Street,
Moscow, 103132,
Russia

Your Excellency

I write to you as the Secretary Geneeral of Norwegian PEN, the local section of PEN International, the writers’ and free expression organisation with 140 Centres in over 100 countries around the world, including Russia and many other countries in your region.

17 August 2013 marks the first anniversary of the convictions of Nadezhda Tolokonnivova, Mariya Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich – three members of the Russian female punk band, Pussy Riot. Convicted on charges of ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’ following Pussy Riot’s performance of a ‘punk prayer’ at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow in February 2012, each woman was punished with a two-year prison sentence (although Samutsevich’s sentence was later suspended).

The convictions and sentencing of Tolokonnivova, Alekhina and Samutsevich – which have been widely condemned inside Russia and throughout the world – represent a violation of their right to free expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Russia in 1973. One year after their convictions, these young women are now recognised across Russia and the rest of the world as victims of the crackdown on dissenting voices initiated by the government of the Russian Federation.

PEN’s deep concern over the continued detention of Tolokonnivova and Alekhina is matched by our alarm over recent changes in Russian law that unlawfully restrict free expression.

On 22 October 2013, Nadezhda Tolokonnivova was moved from a penal colony where she was serving a two-year prison sentence and it is believed that she is in transit to – or has already arrived at – an (as yet) unknown prison. Neither her husband nor her lawyer has had any contact with her for three weeks. Tolokonnikova’s husband has said that an official in the prison administration informed him of a possible move to a prison colony in Siberia, but this has not been confirmed officially.

Russia’s refusal to disclose Tolokonnikova’s whereabouts is a direction violation of the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners which state that prisoners should be allowed regular communication with family and friends and that family members must be notified when a prisoner is transferred from one prison to another.

PEN International calls on the Russian Federation to immediately release the imprisoned members of Pussy Riot and to revoke the sentences of all three members of the band. We urge the Russian Federation to repeal its trio of anti-free expression laws – the re-criminalisation of defamation, the ban on the ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships,’ and the religious insult law. And finally, we call upon your government to fully comply with its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to respect freedom of opinion and expression.

Yours sincerely,

Carl Morten Iversen
Secretary General

SISTE (NTB/Dagbladet):
Livstegn fra Tolokonnikova
Aktivisten og Pussy Riot-medlemmet Nadezjda Tolokonnikova (23), som ble dømt til fengsel for å ha kritisert president Putin, er overført til et fengsel i Sibir, opplyser ektemannen hennes.

Familie, venner og støttespillere har vært bekymret etter at de ikke hadde fått livstegn fra henne på over to uker. Men tirsdag opplyste mannen hennes, Pjotr Verzilov, på Twitter at han hadde fått vite at hun nå var på vei fra fengselet i det sentrale Russland til en arbeidsanstalt i Krasnojarsk-regionen i Sibir.

Sammen med to andre medlemmer i punkbandet Pussy Riot ble Tolokonnikova i fjor dømt til to års straffarbeid etter å framført en sang med sterk kritikk av president Vladimir Putin i en katedral i Moskva. Tidligere i år begynte Tolokonnikova å sultestreike i protest mot forholdene i fengselet der hun satt. Streiken ble avsluttet da hun fikk helseproblemer og ble sendt til sykehus der hun ble satt på drypp. (©NTB) 14. november 2013

Demonstrasjoner over hele verden mot Pussy Riot-dom

PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee is shocked at the two year prison sentence handed down today to the three members of the Russian punk band, Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samusevich under Article 213 of the Russian Criminal Code. The sentence was read today at the Khamovnichesky Court in Moscow.

The three women had been held in custody since early March with their trial not beginning until July.

During the trial the women were locked in a bulletproof cage and according to their lawyers were not giving food or water for long periods of time. The prosecution and its witnesses argued that the bands act had betrayed a deep hatred of all Orthodox Christians and was not motivated not by their outrage at the Putin regime, as they woman had stated.

PEN International monitored the trial where the defence was repeatedly denied the right to make objections, to call their witnesses and at times even to speak. The repressive nature of this judicial process is of increasing concern for PEN International, further highlighting the ongoing repression of free speech in Russia.

The decision comes nearly 6 months after the three women were taken into custody and charged with “hooliganism” motivated by religious hatred, an offence carrying a maximum seven-year term. On 21 February the three women walked into the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow wearing colourful masks and performed a song with the aim of highlighting the close relationship between the Orthodox Church and Putin.

The women were arrested two weeks later.

According to reports and videos of the event, there was no violence or damage to the premises, and PEN International believes that the women have been treated particularly severely because of the lyrics of the song they performed and is composed in the form of a supplication or intercession prayer, in this case addressed to the Virgin Mary.

The heavy prison sentence announced today, which has caused widespread outrage, is huge blow for freedom of expression in Russia and highlight the growing trend of oppression in the country.

For more information on the case see our RAN alert’s:

http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/russia-pussy-riot-trial-closes-%E2%80%93-verdict-due-17-august/

PEN International published a translation of their “punk prayer” Punk Moleben and its context:

http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/russia-pussy-riot-punk-moleben-put-putin-away/

PEN Russia’s open letter to Vladimir Putin in support of Pussy Riot members:

http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/pen-russia-protests-pussy-riot-detentions/

 

Appeals

Please send letters

– Expressing shock at the two year sentences served against Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina
Samusevich
– Adding that long term imprisonment for an action that did not cause physical damage to any person, building or property  would in other circumstances have resulted in a lesser punishment, caution or financial penalty ;
– Pointing out that the harsh sentence is clearly in retaliation for the lyrics of the song performed by Pussy Riot members, containing language that is strongly critical of the Church and of President Putin in particular, and is this in breach of  international conventions, specifically Article 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Russia is a signatory;

Therefore calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the three women.

Address:
You can send messages to President Putin on the Kremlin website
http://eng.letters.kremlin.ru/

Or by mail:
President Vladimir Putin
President of the Russian Federation
23, Ilyinka Street,
Moscow, 103132
Russia

You may find that the Russian ambassador in your own country is more likely to respond to your appeals, so we recommend that you either write to him or her directly or send a copy of your appeal.

Pussy Riot sentence: Norwegian singer cancelles concert in Russian embassy

Norwegian singer Per Vollestad, known from several musical projects, will not sing for the Russian embassy in Oslo. He cancels a previous engagement in protest against the sentence received by the girls in the Russian punk band Pussy Riot –  two years in prison for having sung songs where they are critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin and because the concert was held in a church.

«I was supposed to sing Edvard Grieg in the embassy. Grieg was a man who was very concerned about freedom of speech and it would be completely wrong for me to perform his songs in such a setting. Then I had to either protest against the concert, and I think that would be wrong, or I had to cancel the concert, which I did», he said.

Vollestad emphasizes that one may disagree with the form Pussy Riot used by, among other things, playing such a concert in a church, but that the fact that they get two years in prison and that freedom of expression is being silenced, can not be tolerated.

«Musicians should also engage more in what goes on in the international community», he said.

Vollestad also says that it was a difficult decision to make, since he has been several times in Russia and will later go back in order to give concerts in our great neighbor country in the east.

2012: Russia: Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samusevich

President Dmitry Medvedev
President of the Russian Federation
23, Ilyinka Street
Moscow, 103132
Russia

18th May 2012

Your excellency,

The non-political association of writers, PEN International, is protesting the detention of Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samusevich, pointing out that they are being treated particularly harshly because of the contents of the song lyrics.

PEN International is referring to Russia’s obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Russia, and which protects the right to freedom of expression; and we are further referring to the fact that the women will be held for more than three months without trial, this time breaching Article 9 of the ICCPR that guarantees the right not to be held in pre-trial detention for lengthy periods of time.

Thanking you in advance.

Yours sincerely,

Fredrik Giertsen
member Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN
Wergelandsveien 29
0167 Oslo
Norway

Copy to:
Den Russiske Føderasjons ambassade
Drammensveien 74
0244 Oslo