Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Pussy Riot appeal postponed after member fires lawyers

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MOSCOW -- A Russian court on Monday postponed the appeal of three members of jailed rock band Pussy Riot until Oct. 10 after one group member fired her lawyers.

The three performers were sentenced in August to two years in prison for hooliganism for performing a "punk prayer" against President Vladimir Putin at Moscow's main cathedral.

The band member Yekaterina Samutsevich announced at the opening of the hearing that she recused her three lawyers over an unspecified disagreement. Samutsevich said she had secured the services of another lawyer but had failed to sign a contract.

Prosecutors in the court condemned the move as a delaying tactic.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alekhina, 24, and 30-year-old Samutsevich were arrested in March after dancing and high-kicking at Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral as they pleaded with the Virgin Mary to save Russia from Putin, who was elected to a third presidential term two weeks later. They said during their trial in August that they were protesting the Russian Orthodox Church's support for Putin and didn't intend to offend religious believers.

The Russian Orthodox Church said Sunday the rockers would deserve mercy if they offer repentance for their February stunt in February. The move followed a statement by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who said that keeping them in prison any longer would be "unproductive."

The calls reflected an apparent desire by both the government and the church to put an end to the case, which has caused international outrage.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 2, 2012 C2

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