Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

McCartney in Pussy Riot parole plea

Paul McCartney is campaigning for the release of members of Pussy Riot

A Russian court has denied parole to a member of the Pussy Riot punk group despite a plea by Sir Paul McCartney.

In its ruling, the court accepted a claim by prosecutors that Maria Alyokhina had systematically disobeyed prison authorities and failed to repent for her crime, Russian media reported.

Ms Alyokhina went on a hunger strike on Wednesday after being barred from the court hearing in Perm province, and she ordered her defence not to participate.

Band members Ms Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich gained worldwide notoriety last year when a Moscow court jailed them for two years for conducting a punk protest in Moscow's main cathedral. Ms Samtusevich was later released on appeal.

Ms Alyokhina's lawyer said she would appeal against the court's decision.

A court in the province of Mordovia denied Ms Tolokonnikova parole last month.

Sir Paul had sent handwritten notes to the Russian authorities asking authorities to grant Ms Alyokhina the right to be present at a future hearing.

He said: "My personal belief is that further incarceration for Maria will be harmful for her and the situation as a whole, which, of course, is being watched by people all over the world.

"In the great tradition of fair-mindedness which the Russian people (many of whom are my friends) are famous for, I believe that you granting this request would send a very positive message to all the people who have followed this case."

In a further letter about Ms Tolokonnikova, Sir Paul said: "I have had a long relationship with the Russian people, and, with this in mind, I am making the following request in a spirit of friendship for my many Russian acquaintances who, like me, believe in treating people - all people - with compassion and kindness."

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