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Pussy Riot motion gets up in Senate

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For more information contact Sarah Mennie on 0409 696 531 or Nick Xenophon on 0411 626 677


PUSSY RIOT MOTION GETS UP IN SENATE XENOPHON RAISES CONCERNS ABOUT FREE SPEECH IN RUSSIA Independent Senator for South Australia Nick Xenophon‟s motion - regarding the jailing of three members of the Russian band Pussy Riot - was supported in the Senate this afternoon. Senator Xenophon moved that: 1) The Senate notes that - a) On Friday, August 17, 2012, Yekaterina Samutsevich, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, members of the Russian band Pussy Riot, were each sentenced to two years in jail after being found guilty by a Russian court of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” following a performance which was critical of President Vladimir Putin in Moscow‟s Christ the Saviour Cathedral. b) The Russian Orthodox Church described what the women did as “sacrilege” but also requested clemency be shown to the convicted women. c) Amnesty International has stated while the womens‟ protest may have been offensive, their sentence was “a bitter blow to freedom of expression”. 2) The Senate expresses its concern at the severity of the sentence and the seeming intolerance of freedom of expression in Russia. All sides of politics supported the motion. “Free speech is a key part of any democracy. The fact these women were each jailed for two years for protesting against President Vladimir Putin raises serious concerns about freedom of expression in Russia,” Nick said. Senator Xenophon said news reports suggested the legal team for the women would appeal the sentences. “I would hope not only that common sense will prevail in any appeal process, but that the Russian judicial system sees the current sentence for what it is - a very strong message that free speech is under threat in Russia,” Nick said. “I understand that Pussy Riot‟s „punk prayer‟ in the Church was offensive to many people, but I agree with the Russian Orthodox Church which called for clemency for these women.”