Pussy Riot Appeal Delayed in Russia

Court adjourns after one band member fires her lawyers

Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in Moscow
Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/GettyImages
Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in Moscow
By |

An appeal hearing for jailed Russian punk band Pussy Riot was postponed this morning after one of the musicians fired her lawyers, The Associated Press reports.

Sitting alongside her bandmates, Yekaterina Samutsevich told the Moscow court she disagreed with how the group's lawyers were handling the case. "My position on the criminal case does not match their (the lawyers') position," Tolokonnikova told the courtroom. She offered no details. Though prosecutors criticized the move as a delaying tactic, the court adjourned until October 10th. 

Samutsevich, 30, said she has found a new lawyer, but has yet to sign a contract. Her fellow defendants, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Maria Alyokhina, 24, plan to continue with their attorneys, though they said they support Samutsevich's choice.

A defense lawyer said the women are under considerable strain as they face stints in separate Russian penal colonies and, for Tolokonnikova and Alekhina, the possibility that the government will take away their children. Members of Pussy Riot's legal team told American reporters last week that a six-month reduction in their two-year sentences is about the best the women can hope for.

The band members were found guilty in August of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for staging a protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main cathedral in February. They were arrested in March. Their trial and subsequent conviction, seen as an example of Putin's refusal to tolerate dissent and deepening ties between the government and the Russian Orthodox church, sparked an international outcry that has drawn statements of support from Yoko Ono, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Sinead O'Connor and more.