News / Europe

    Russian Lawyers, Legislator Claim Political Discrimination

    Supporter of the punk band Pussy Riot with a sign on her wrist reading "They are your children, Russia," Moscow, Aug. 17, 2012.
    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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.