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.
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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs