Another Pussy Riot Member Sentenced As Group Pressed By Authorities

By RFE/RL's Russian Service

MOSCOW -- A Moscow court has sentenced a member of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot to 15 days in jail on a charge of "minor hooliganism," part of a series of moves against the activists in recent days.

The court issued the ruling against Aleksandr Sofeyev on June 23. A Moscow photographer, Dmitry Vorontsov, who was detained along with Sofeyev, was also sentenced to 15 days in jail on the same charge.

The two were arrested late on June 21. Police initially filled protocols against the two accusing them of "drinking alcohol in public" after they found a bottle of wine in Sofeyev's backpack.

Sofeyev's lawyer, Marat Gilmanov, told MBKh Media that the charge was changed and all of the initial paperwork rewritten after he demanded the two men be examined by medical personnel, who found no alcohol in their blood.

The arrests came a day after three other Pussy Riot members, Lyusya Shtein, Anna Kuzminykh, and Maria Alyokhina, as well as the chief of the Moscow branch of the unregistered The Other Russia party, Olga Shalina, were detained in Moscow.

Alyokhina and Shtein were charged with disobeying police. Alyokhina was detained as she traveled to get a vaccination against COVID-19. Police said they took her into custody because of "information about her plans to perform an unsanctioned protest action on the day of the 80th anniversary of Nazi Germany's attack on the Soviet Union."

It is not clear where the police got that information and the next day the charge was changed to disobeying police.

Another Pussy Riot member, Veronika Nikulshina, was sentenced on June 21 to 15 days in jail on a charge of "disobedience to police."

Pussy Riot came to prominence in 2012 when Alyokhina and the group’s another noted member, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, burst into Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral to protest ties between the Russian Orthodox Church and then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Their protest, the performance of a song they described as a "punk prayer," took place as Putin was campaigning for his return to the presidency.

Two were convicted on a charge of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" and sentenced to two years in a penal colony.

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were close to completing their sentences when they were granted amnesty in December 2013.

Two dismissed their amnesty as a propaganda stunt aimed at improving Putin's image abroad ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.

With reporting by MBKh Media