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Russian court delays Pussy Riot verdict

Aug. 9, 2012 at 5:40 PM

MOSCOW, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Experts say a decision to postpone a verdict in the Pussy Riot trial could be good news for the Russian punk band.

The announcement was made Wednesday after the three defendants, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, made their final statements in the trial, The Moscow Times reported. The judge said the verdict, which had been expected this week, would not be delivered until the end of next week, Aug. 17.

Alexei Mukhin, head of the Center for Political Information, said Russian leaders may hope that their opponents will make statements anticipating a harsh verdict and then surprise them with a milder one. Olga Mefodyeva, a chief analyst at the Center of Political Technologies, said leaders are not united about the case.

The defendants were charged with hooliganism after a performance at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. They allegedly criticized President Vladimir Putin and Kirill, the Russian Orthodox patriarch.

"Who is to blame for what happened at Christ the Savior Cathedral?" Tolokonnikova asked during her final statement. "The authoritarian system is to blame. Rigidity and castes rule in Russia. We have been looking for real sincerity and simplicity in the foolishness of punk performances."

On Thursday, a lawsuit by a woman in Novosibirsk, Irina Rusankina, was transferred to a Moscow court. Rusankina in court papers says that watching Pussy Riot on television and especially its "encroachment" on church canons caused her deep pain and suffering.

Rusankina attempted to run for public office in the Novosibirsk region in Siberia almost a decade ago but was unable to get on the ballot.

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