The Interpreter

A special project of Institute of Modern Russia
Pussy Riot members (from left to right) Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova | Photo: AFP/GettyImages

Russian Supreme Court Declares Pussy Riot Sentence Unlawful

News breaks day after "amnesty" rumor leaked.

Yesterday, Russian state-owned media outlets carried a “leaked” report that the imprisoned Pussy Riot members were included in the draft amnesty bill. Today, it has been announced that the Supreme Court has thrown out their sentences anyway.

As their prison terms are set to expire early next year, this is being interpreted by many as a public relations move ahead of the Sochi Olympics which open February 7th.

Please note that it is unclear what will happen to the sentence. See our new translation from Slon.Ru posted on December 12. — Ed.


The judicial collegium for criminal cases of the Russian Federation Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case of Pussy Riot. The Supreme Court expressed the opinion that the sentence carried out in the case of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich was unlawful. The Supreme Court reported this on its official web site.

“We don’t know what the motivations are, nor the grounds [for the decision]. This could be the lack of evidence for the crime, or the forms and length of the punishment, or some other technical formal reasons. This will become known when we can obtain the decision of the Supreme Court ourselves. The Court, in reviewing our appeal for supervision, considered it justified in some part, and opened up a supervision case and sent the criminal case for substantive review to the presidium of the Moscow City Court. We can expect that in the next month, the date for review will be scheduled. The defense attorneys of the convicts are expected to take part in the proceedings. On the one hand, this does not mean that the sentence against Pussy Riot is overturned, because the Moscow City Court presidium can’t decide that issue, but on the other hand, it’s a very good signal. The highest court of Russia did not agree with the sentence issued in the case of Pussy Riot,” said attorney Irina Khrunova, who represents Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina.

We will recall that earlier the attorneys of the convicts and the Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin appealed to the Russian Supreme Court with complaints regarding the sentence against the Pussy Riot members.