Victoria Lomasko: From the Tagansky District Court (Pussy Riot Hearing)

A Graphic Reportage from the Hearing of the Pussy Riot Case, Tagansky District Court (Moscow, April 19, 2012)

Drawings and text: Victoria Lomasko

 

Katya Samutsevich’s father

Because of the huge amount of press, the start of the hearing was delayed for more than an hour: police had to clear a path to the courtroom cage for the accused and their armed guards.

Natalia Sergeevna Alyokhina: “The investigator said he wasn’t obliged to explain to me why my requests to visit my daughter have been turned down.”

Masha Alyokhina’s mom had not seen her daughter since February.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova’s case was the first to be heard.

Nadya Tolokonnikova: “I wish those who put us here a life like ours in prison.”

Nadya Tolokonnikova gave a five-minute speech to the courtroom gallery, and then chatted for a few minutes with her husband Pyotr Verzilov and journalists, many of whom are her friends.

Key points from Nadya’s speech:
– Our performance was directed against the merger of church and state.
– Patriarch Kirill is always being shown on Channel One on the TV in prison. In fact, he’s shown more often than President Bear Cub [Medvedev].
– When you’re in jail, the only interesting thing is the fact that Putin has hijacked the country.
– Prison is a good place for thinking people.
– You people on the outside have no idea what solitary confinement is like: the doctor shows up only when you’re about to croak.
– Many prisoners pair up and live as couples in the cells.
– I am fasting, so only send me yogurt.
– My daughter draws her mother in a cage.

Regarding public support for Pussy Riot:
– The jailers and judges care about the opinion of only one person. They are prepared to bury us alive.

Judge Elena Ivanova

Instead of Judge Svetlana Alexandrova (familiar to us from the Forbidden Art trial), this time Judge Elena Ivanova presided.

 Tolokonnikova: “I have a headache that doesn’t go away, neither during the day nor at night. But in the pretrial detention facility they won’t even give me aspirin.”

Tolokonnikova’s lawyer, Mark Feygin, also pointed out several times that Nadya has been plagued by severe headaches in jail, and that she needs to be examined by a doctor.

Judge Ivanova: “Tolokonnikova committed a particularly severe crime motivated by religious hatred… Tolokonnikova can receive appropriate medical treatment at the pretrial detention facility… A young child is not sufficient grounds to turn down the investigation’s motion.”

Judge Ivanova reads out the court’s ruling. The investigator’s motion to extend Nadya Tolokonnikova’s arrest for two months is granted.

After Nadya’s hearing, Masha Alyokhina was led in by guards. She was carrying a book by Mandelstam.

Alyokhina: “No, I have no complaints about my living conditions in prison.”

When asked by loved ones and the press what life is like for her in prison, Masha replied that she plays ping-pong there, reads Solzhenitsyn, and is friends with her cellmate.

Alyokhina’s lawyers, Violetta Volkova and Nikolai Polozov, noted that Masha is active in the community: she has worked with environmental organizations, participated in saving architectural monuments, and given drawing lessons to children in orphanages and psychiatric hospitals as a volunteer with the Orthodox youth organization Danilovtsy. But these positive character references made no impression on investigator Artyom Ranchenkov.

 

Ranchenkov: “The Orthodox community demands harsh punishment.”

 Masha smiled helplessly as she listened to the investigator’s statement.

 Alyokhina: “While in prison, I’ve received around fifty letters from Orthodox believers with expressions of sympathy and support.”

Investigator Ranchenkov claimed that there were other letters — for example, a letter to the prosecutor’s office from a certain Ambrosian, who believes that Pussy Riot’s protest actions could destroy the country.

Judge Ivanova extended Masha Alyokhina’s arrest until June 24. When journalists asked Masha to comment on the ruling, she quoted Osip Mandelstam: “All right then, I apologize, / But I don’t change a bit deep down inside.”

Alyokhina: “All right then, I apologize, / But I don’t change a bit deep down inside.”

In an interview with Interfax published the same day, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin commented on Alyokhina’s statement: “Apologizing, repenting — unless it’s hypocritical apology and repentance —means changing a little bit all the same. I hope that this step won’t be the last or the only one. I hope that the persons under investigation hear the pain they’ve caused and will stop insisting on the ‘rightness’ of their action in the temple.”

Ekaterina Samutsevich’s case was the last to be heard.

 Samutsevich: “I don’t give interviews about our case. You need to be careful with names.”

Her statement to the press was the shortest. The accused said only that the trial was “political.”

Female police officer: “Give me your hands.”

When she heard the court’s ruling, a female police officer got handcuffs ready.

When members of the press left the courtroom at eight in the evening, people protesting in support of Pussy Riot were still outside the building. Eyewitnesses recounted that while the court hearing was under way, police officers had aggressively detained many of those who had come to support the young women. To applause and shouts of “Freedom!” Nadya Tolokonnikova, Masha Alyokhina and Katya Samutsevich were taken back to the pretrial detention facility.

_____

Our thanks to Victoria Lomasko for permission to reproduce her reportage. You can read the original reportage (in Russian) here.

To get updates about the case, find out about solidarity events in your part of the world, and contribute to the legal defense of Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samutsevich, who face up to seven years in prison and have been declared prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International, go to freepussyriot.org.

3 Comments

Filed under feminism, gay rights, international affairs, political repression, protests, Russian society

3 responses to “Victoria Lomasko: From the Tagansky District Court (Pussy Riot Hearing)

  1. Pingback: Victoria Lomasko: “Being inside the picture is a matter of honor for me” | chtodelat news

  2. Pingback: Victoria Lomasko, 2012: A Chronicle of Resistance | chtodelat news

  3. Pingback: Victoria Lomasko: Slaves of Moscow | found in translation

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