Russian court rejects appeal of jail terms for Pussy Riot protesters who disrupted the World Cup final

Moscow City Court upheld the 15-day sentences for members of the feminist punk rock group who invaded the pitch at the France-Croatia final dressed as police officers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 July, 2018, 1:32am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 July, 2018, 9:50pm

A Russian court on Monday threw out appeals by members off protest punk group Pussy Riot after they were sentenced to brief jail terms for invading the pitch at the World Cup final.

“I consider the punishment lawful and well-founded,” said Moscow City Court Judge Sergei Misyura in comments carried by RIA Novosti news agency as he upheld the 15-day police cell sentences for breaching rules for spectators.

The activists – Veronika Nikulshina, Olga Kuracheva, Olga Pakhtusova and Pyotr Verzilov – were found guilty last week after their brief invasion dressed in police uniforms at the final between France and Croatia at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium on July 15.

The activists said the protest, accompanied by a statement and video, was aimed at highlighting abuses by the Russian police and government.

Their stunt was watched by Russian President Vladimir Putin and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron as well as millions of viewers around the world.

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The band faces a separate hearing on Tuesday for the unlawful wearing of police uniforms, punishable by a small fine.

Pussy Riot swept to global fame in 2012 when three of the punk collective’s members were arrested for performing an anti-Putin protest song in a central Moscow church.

Two, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, served jail terms, while one other, Yekaterina Samutsevich, had her sentence suspended on appeal.

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On Monday, Alyokhina lost a libel case against her and Russia’s Sobesednik magazine launched by the penal colony where she was held.

It concerned claims she made in an article about poor working conditions and wages for prisoners, Interfax news agency reported.