Maria Alyokhina collapsed during the trial today due to low blood sugar, prompting the defense attorney to once again raise concerns that the three are being denied adequate sleep and food. Defence lawyer Violetta Volkova has stated that the three are being woken up at 5 am, held in a small holding cell for hours without food, taken to court for 11-hour sessions and then returned to their cells without dinner.
The women have already pleaded innocent to the charges of hooliganism, saying that their actions during their protest performance on February 21 in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral were politically motivated, intended to bring attention to their criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin from the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, and while they may have been an "ethical mistake," they were not a crime. They face up to seven years in prison if convicted.
But the fact that their position is a political one may be the most damning evidence against the three, in a country ruled by government that has increasingly made moves to silence opposition and dissent. And even as the women have been repeatedly denied bail and have had their pre-trial detention extended into 2013, the defense has been denied any of its witnesses, and the women are being held under harsh, torturous conditions during their trial, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has gone on record, telling the Times in London that the courts should be allowed to decide the fates of three women, and that they should consider themselves fortunate that this happened in Russia,and not another country where they could have been dealt with more harshly. I'm assuming he's referring to somewhere where the women would have been summarily executed, because I can't imagine many other treatments harsher than being denied bail, food or sleep.
Now as the trial plays out, it will most likely be a fast and point by point condemnation of the women with little to suggest the trappings of justice, so that the Russian courts can use the women as an example of what happens to commoners who speak out against their government, allowing them to move on bigger targets with the witch hunt that has begun against Putin's political opposition, starting with opposition leader Alexei Navalny and Russian parliament member Gennady Gudkov, both of whom have now found themselves the targets of legal investigation.
It's clear that Putin would like to see Russia run his way, and is clearly intent on silencing and shutting down anyone who feels otherwise, no matter their status or the means used.