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European rights court condemns Russia over Pussy Riot

The court separately criticised Moscow for its investigation into murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Pussy Riot

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday condemned Russia over its treatment of Pussy Riot activists as well as the investigation into murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya in separate judgements.

The court found that three Pussy Riot members - Nadya Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich - arrested in 2012 had been subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment and their rights to a fair trial and to liberty had been violated.

The seven judges hearing the case found that the three members had been subjected to "overcrowded conditions" in their transportation to their trial and had suffered "humiliation" by being permanently exposed in a glass dock.

Their detention pending trial for five months was also unjustified in the court's view, with prosecutors giving what the court judged to be "stereotyped reasons" for keeping them behind bars.

Finally, the three protesters had been deprived of a fair trial because they could not communicate with their lawyers and their prison sentences had been "exceptionally severe".

The European court ordered Russia to pay damages of 16,000 euros ($18,785) each to Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, and 5,000 euros ($5,870) to Samutsevich, as well as 11,760 euros ($13,807) for their legal expenses.

In the case of Politkovskaya, who was gunned down in Moscow in 2006, the court ruled that Russia "had failed to take adequate investigatory steps to find the person or persons who had commissioned the murder".

The judges at the court in Strasbourg found that Russian investigators should have explored possibilities that the crime was ordered by "agents from Russia's FSB domestic secret service or of the administration of the Chechen Republic".

The case was filed at the ECHR by Politkovskaya's family, who claimed Russia had not carried out a proper investigation despite the conviction of five men over the killing.

The court ordered Russia to pay a total of 20,000 euros ($23,500) to the four family members - Politkovskaya's mother, sister and two children.

'Punk prayer'

Pussy Riot members were imprisoned for two years for hooliganism over the performance of "punk prayer" in Moscow's main cathedral to protest President Vladimir Putin's return to the presidency. 

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were released after serving one year and nine months of their two-year sentences. Samutsevich was imprisoned for seven months.

The trio appealed to the ECHR in 2013, alleging that the conviction violated four articles of the European Convention on Human Rights - the ones guaranteeing freedom of speech, the right to liberty and security, the prohibition of torture and the right to a fair trial.

In the latest incident involving the group's new members, two of the four arrested protesters were sentenced to 15 days in jail in Moscow on Monday for barging onto the field at the World Cup final. It was not immediately clear when the cases of the other two protesters would be adjudicated.

The members ran onto the field at the Luzhniki Stadium in protest against the imprisonment of Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, a fierce critic of Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region who was charged with plotting armed attacks in the region.


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