News / Europe

Russian Lawyers, Legislator Claim Political Discrimination

Supporter of the punk band Pussy Riot with a sign on her wrist reading
Supporter of the punk band Pussy Riot with a sign on her wrist reading "They are your children, Russia," Moscow, Aug. 17, 2012.
A lawyer for punk rock band “Pussy Riot” says he is facing pressure from Kremlin officials for defending the convicted musicians.
 
Meanwhile, a Russian parliamentary committee says it has found sufficient evidence to oust an opposition deputy from the lower house of parliament.
 
The new allegations of political harrassment emerge ahead of protests of President Vladmir Putin that are set to take place this weekend.
 
Members of legal team questioned
 
According to Mark Feigin, attorney for the three band members convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, Russian authorities called him in for questioning about disturbances that occurred during a massive anti-Putin rally on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square in May.
 
While Feigin did attend a May 6 anti-Putin demonstration, which was sanctioned by authorities, along with thousands of others, it was shortly after Putin's inauguration for an unprecedented third presidential term that Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, increased fines for participating in unsanctioned protests more than 150-fold — more than the average Russian's annual salary.
 
The move, says some analysts and opposition leaders, was intended as a clear signal that Putin wouldn't tolerate dissent.
 
Nikolai Polozov, another lawyer for the all-female band, says his colleague’s summons is no coincidence, and that authorities had indicated there could be consequences for defending the band's decision to call on the Virgin Mary to deliver them from Putin on the altar of Russia’s most prominent Orthodox Cathedral in February.
 
"Authorities gave us a signal that if we continue to defend our defendants in the "Pussy Riot" case in this manner — I mean defend without compromise, without making any secret compromises or deals with the investigators and judge — then they will persecute us," said Polozov, adding that a third member of the "Pussy Riot" legal team was also called in for questioning. "What's happening now is a confirmation of our words: that officials have decided to put direct pressure on the lawyers."
 
Outspoken legislator targeted
 
Member of Just Russia political party Gennady Gudkov, center, near Bolotnaya square, Moscow, Dec. 10, 2011.Member of Just Russia political party Gennady Gudkov, center, near Bolotnaya square, Moscow, Dec. 10, 2011.
x
Member of Just Russia political party Gennady Gudkov, center, near Bolotnaya square, Moscow, Dec. 10, 2011.
Member of Just Russia political party Gennady Gudkov, center, near Bolotnaya square, Moscow, Dec. 10, 2011.
Meanwhile, Gennady Gudkov, a three-term legislator from the socialist Just Russia party and a Duma deputy, says the Kremlin is targeting him with alleged ethics violations because he is an opposition leader.
 
"Officials couldn't find any damaging evidence against [me], any violations on [my] part," he said, explaining that they are trying to remove him from the State Duma because they are "afraid of the truth, afraid of critics, afraid of [my] stance."
 
A commission responsible for monitoring business activities of Russian lawmakers claims to have evidence that Gudkov is in violation of the law by co-owning and managing a construction-materials business and allegedly making money from a textile firm.
 
The commission's findings could allow the Duma to force Gudkov out just as opposition organizers have planned more rallies against Putin this weekend.
 
The Kremlin has consistently maintained that if leaders and ordinary Russians break the law, they must be punished.
 
"We are talking about the destiny of the Russian opposition, the destiny of the Russian protest movement," said Gudkov, adding that he still plans to attend an anti-Putin rally on Saturday. "We are discussing in general the destiny of the Russian people and the destiny of our country, because if the authorities continue to move forward on a path of political reprisal and non-judicial punishment, civil war will not be slow to come."

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
September 11, 2012 10:04 PM
This prejudiced, arbitrary and blown out of proportion overreactions against lawyers for “Pussy Riot” and Duma deputy Gudkov are counter-productive and look as intimidation. They undoubtedly repel Asian investors whom Mr Putin has tried to invite in Russia in the last APEC summit in Vladivostok to compensate the fleeing foreign capital from the country.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs