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Russian Courts Move To Extend Pre-Trial Detention for Pussy Riot into 2013

Members of the punk collective have been denied bail, and justice, yet again.

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Russian Courts Move To Extend Pre-Trial Detention for Pussy Riot into 2013

Pussy Riot

In a move that does nothing to further the course of any sort of justice and serves only to paint a bad picture of Russia and its harsh treatment of citizens who attempt to exercise any rights to freedom of expression, the Russian courts issued a decision to deny bail to the three detained members of the Russian political punk collective Pussy Riot.

While this comes as little surprise, given the court's treatment Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, it's the decision to extend the three women's pretrial detention until January that is despicable beyond belief.

So, by the time the women even go to trial, assuming that this trial even happens then, they will have been held behind bars for almost a year. And, once it finally does go to trial, face sentences of up to seven years under the hooliganism charges they face.

These are women, two of which who have children, who are charged with taking part in an unsanctioned political protest performance on February 21 in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral, despite the fact that the defense claims to have video evidence showing that the actual protest was ridiculously minor, and that only edited videos present it as a bigger event than it was. Even were that not the case, the event was the sort of protest-oriented public disturbance that, in most civilized countries, would have been merited little punishment.

But Russia isn't most civilized countries, apparently. The next hearing has been scheduled for July 30.

Meanwhile, today the court's rejected requests by the defense to call forth their own witnesses, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, an ally of Putin's who has spoken out against the group. With these decisions (the court also rejected every other witness the defense requested), the prosecution will be the only side allowed to prevent witnesses at this time. Again, it's a blatant miscarriage of justice, proving that the court may have already decided how this case will play out.

Which make their last and latest announcement - that the trial will be broadcast online - not much of a surprise. While the court's seem to be doing it in an act of transparent good will, its other moves depict it as more of one final nail in the coffin of the three women. With the prolonged pre-trial detention and repeated denial of bail despite mounting support for the women both in Russia and worldwide, and now the announcement that the defense has thus far been denied any witnesses in the trial, this broadcast will most likely be a one-sided attack on the women, serving both to present them as political terrorists intent on deriding the values of upstanding Russian citizens, and also to serve as an example as to how Putin's regime intends to continue to deal with dissent.

It's inexplicable and yet all too terrifyingly understandable, the sort of thing that one would expect from a movie about a harsh dictator who's so despicable that's he rides the line of being unbelievable. You have a group of young women who are passionate about their beliefs yet relatively powerless and ultimately harmless, who decide to stage a series of protests to at least voice their opinions, and they are dealt with in a fashion that should be reserved for genuine terrorists.

And it's all just to send a message. And that message is that, no matter your opinion, in Russia you should keep it to yourself. And tune in to the internet to see why.

For now, all the rest of the worldwide scene can do is continue to maintain the vigil, stay active, and do everything that can be done to ensure that our sisters in Russia are not forgotten.

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