Supporter alleges assault as Pussy Riot defendants vow hunger strike


A combo photo of defendants Ekaterina Samusevich, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Maria Alyokhina (left to right)

A supporter of Russia’s embattled anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot has filed a police complaint after allegedly being beaten by a Russian Orthodox activist.

Tatyana Romanova’s lawyer says she was assaulted on July 4 outside a court in Moscow where three members of the all-female dissident group are being tried for performing a song critical of President Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s largest cathedral.

According to her lawyer, Romanova suffered a concussion and damage to her teeth.

The three Pussy Riot members went on hunger strike on July 4 after the court ordered their lawyers to finish preparing their defense by July 9.

The three women -- Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Maria Alyokhina -- face up to seven years in jail on charges of hooliganism.

A lawyer for Tolokonnikova, Mark Feigin,  told RFE/RL’s Russian Service that the timing "puts the defense in a position where it cannot fully prepare" for the case.

They have already complained of unfair treatment and orchestrated reprimands during their pretrial detention, with their lawyers saying such incidents are aimed at intimidating the women and providing a pretext for harsher treatment.

Pussy Riot has a rotating "membership" of women who don’t all turn up at any single event and wear masks during their appearances.

The three defendants admit to being part of the larger Pussy Riot collective but deny taking part in the action at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior which is at the heart of the current case.

Their plight has sparked an outcry in Russia and beyond, with more than 100 prominent Russian cultural figures signing an open letter calling for their release.

Songs on a "White Album" by Russian musicians promoting the recent anti-Kremlin street protests that feature white ribbons and other objects have also been dedicated to Pussy Riot’s defense.

Amnesty International has urged Russian authorities to release them.

Musicians and other supporters have also held events in Europe and the United States aimed at convincing Russian authorities to drop the politically charged case.

Masked women took the stage at a concert in Moscow by Faith No More on July 2 to express support for Pussy Riot, reportedly as a last-minute condition of that U.S. band’s performance.
RFEL, With reporting by AFP, Interfax, and ITAR-TASS

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