The Pussy Riot Trial

July 30, 2012

The trial of Pussy Riot members began today, in the same court room that was used for Khodorkovsky’s second show trial.  The trial was streaming online for about 2 hours, but the prosecutor requested it to be closed down for safety reasons.

 

Available video of the trial (15 minute part) in Russian

Transcript of the trial’s video in English

Judge: Defendants, do you understand the charges brought against you? Tolokonnikova? Do you understand the charges?
Nadya [stands up]: No, I don’t understand. Because…
Judge [interrupting]: Understood, okay, sit down.
Nadya: Can I read the explanatory note…
Judge [interrupting]: Don’t rush. Alekhina, do you understand the charges against you?
Masha: I don’t understand the charges against me.
Judge: What do you not understand?
Masha: I would like to explain that…
Judge [interrupting, shouting]: WHAT DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND ABOUT THE CHARGES?
Masha: I don’t understand the ideological side of the question [pauses] I don’t understand on what basis they make statements about my motives [pauses] I don’t understand why I can’t explain.
Judge [irritated]: Do not rush things!
Masha: I’m not…
Judge: You will be given the word! AND NOW I AM ASKING YOU A QUESTION: DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST YOU? JUST NOW THE PROSECUTOR ANNOUNCED WHAT YOU ARE ACCUSED OF.
Masha: I don’t understand…
Judge [irritated]: What don’t you understand, please explain, what don’t you understand?
Masha: I just explained…
Judge: Repeat it again
Masha: I don’t understand the ideological side of the accusation regarding mine and… regarding our motives.
Judge [sighs]: Okay, sit down. Samutsevich, do you understand the charges?
Katya: No, I don’t understand.
Judge: What don’t YOU understand?
Katya: I don’t understand almost all of the paragraphs of the accusation. I think they are unconvincing and untenable. That is, the grounds on which such statements are made were unexplained.
Judge: Please, Prosecutor, can you explain once more?
[The girls are trying to speak with their lawyers and being in the glass cage with only one window in the middle, the lawyer and the girls have to bend in order to communicate and hear each other]
Prosecutor [speaks in a low voice and very fast, not bothering to explain, Katya is trying to bend closer to the window in the cage, so she can hear what the prosecutor is saying]: Your Honour, regarding the accusations, they are clear enough and what they are based on will be provided to the court and to the defendants during the trial in the form of a victims’ questioning, in the form of written material and evidence. And all three defendants are accused of hooliganism, which is in flagrant violation of the order, expressing a clear disrespect for society, committed with motives of religious hatred and enmity by the group of people by prior agreement.
Judge: Do you understand?
Masha: No I don’t, since the Prosecutor has read only a small part of the 140 pages.
Judge: The prosecutor stated the charges brought against you, all the evidence will be studied during the trial.
Masha [Trying to say something, but the Judge doesn’t let her]: …But…
Judge: At this stage of the trial the Prosecutor doesn’t have to provide any evidence.
Masha [She looks confused about the fact that the Judge doesn’t let her say a word]: I don’t understand. I insist that the indictment is read in full.
Judge: I repeat once again. [speaking loudly] At this stage of the trial, the Prosecutor does not provide any evidence and only states the charges that have been brought against you. The evidence will be examined.
Masha: I’m not talking about the evidence; I’m saying that the indictment hasn’t been read in full and what has been read I don’t understand.
Judge: The Prosecutor stated…
Masha [interrupts the judge]: I don’t understand what the basis for the accusation is…
Judge [interrupting and yelling]: The basis will be presented later.
Masha: It doesn’t become clearer…
[Girls’ lawyers laugh]
Judge:
The prosecutor stated the charges.
Masha: I have already said everything, I have nothing to add. Sorry.
Katya [Gets up from the bench]: The accusation hasn’t been formulated fully.
Judge: Okay, you think that the accusation hasn’t been formulated…Er… Do you plead guilty to the charges presented to you? Tolokonnikova?
[Note that even though the girls said that they haven’t understood what they have been accused of, the Judge is asking whether they plead guilty]
Nadya: No, I don’t plead guilty to the charges presented to me. Can I explain why?
Judge [irritated]: You will explain everything when the time is right!
Nadya: I just want everyone to understand…
Judge [interrupting and screaming]: You don’t plead guilty, sit down!
Nadya: I don’t plead guilty because…
Judge [interrupting]: Samutsevich, do you plead guilty?
Katya is quiet
Judge: Please get up and answer, Samutsevich? Do you plead guilty to the charges brought against you?
Katya: No I don’t.
Judge: Alekhina, do you plead guilty?
Masha: I can’t plead guilty, I didn’t understand the indictment.
Judge: You are a graduate; do you know the Russian language?
Masha: Firstly, I haven’t graduated yet. Secondly, I am a journalist, and I don’t have juridical qualifications. I don’t understand what I am being accused of. I can’t plead or not plead guilty, I don’t understand.
Judge [with sarcasm and laugh]: Prosecutor, can you once again explain, they don’t understand.
The Prosecutor: Accused of hooliganism, in other words flagrant violation of the order, expressing a clear disrespect for society, committed with religious hatred and enmity, hatred against any social group by the group of people by prior agreement. It was announced and more than that each of the defendants has a copy of the document. At this stage of the trial, the prosecution had announced the accusations in a literate language.
Judge [interrupting, being sarcastic]: The Russian language
The Prosecutor: More than that, the defendants use the professional lawyers’ help, so if something is not understood their lawyers can explain it to them, of course if they are able to do so.
Judge: Alekhina, you will be able to express your opinion on the accusation. [starts screaming] AT THIS STAGE OF THE TRIAL THE QUESTION IS WHETHER YOU UNDERSTAND THE CHARGES AGAINST YOU AND WHETHER YOU PLEAD GUILTY.
Masha: I understand…
Judge: Later, you will have an opportunity to express your opinion.
Masha: The Prosecutor states that for an explanation of the indictment we have three qualified lawyers. Not even once have I had a confidential meeting with them. I insist on my lawyers explaining the indictment to me. I don’t understand it. I want a meeting with my lawyers.
Judge: You had the possibility of meeting them…
Masha [interrupting and shouting because the judge doesn’t stop talking and doesn’t let her say what she wants to say]: No I haven’t, because at 5:30 the detention centre wasn’t working.
Judge: You had the opportunity and your lawyers didn’t use this opportunity.
Masha and several other people: This is not true!
Masha: I don’t understand why the court doesn’t take my words into account! You gave me a letter, which stated that after 11 o’clock my lawyers and I would have a confidential meeting…
Judge [interrupting and trying to over shout Masha]: Please CALM DOWN, we now speak about other question
Masha [doesn’t stop talking in spite of judge’s attempts to keep her quiet]: It is very important for me to say this! …But we arrived to the detention facility only at 16:30.
Judge [succeeds to over shout Masha]: Do you plead guilty to the indictment?
Masha: I don’t understand the indictment.
[Long pause, no one can find what to say]
Judge: The indictment was presented clearly enough. SO PLEASE, TOLOKONNIKOVA, WOULD YOU LIKE TO EXPRESS YOUR OPINION REGARDING THE INDICTMENT?
Nadya: Yes, I…
Judge: Please.
Nadya: The court has already added my opinion to the case, which was read by the lawyers…
Judge [interrupting]: Yes, your petition was granted and the written version added to the case materials.
Nadya: Yes, so I will only explain a few of the points, because all this has been said already. So I do not plead guilty to the Article 213 Paragraph 2, first of all because I do not accept the motives assigned to me. I was not motivated by religious hatred and enmity towards anyone. Actually, I didn’t have any motive at all because I don’t feel this way towards anyone, so I think it is cruel of the investigation to assign such motives to me. The indictment does not provide any evidence that I had such motives. I do accept that I was at the Cathedral and I did perform there but that performance was not motivated by religious hatred or enmity towards anyone or hatred towards any social group. Those actions do not show our motives, they were performed for other reasons, they were politically motivated. We had political ideas, which had been shown along with the actions. The group (Pussy Riot) spoke a lot about the fact that they don’t feel any hatred towards anyone, including the time before we found out about the criminal case against us. Thus, we did not have intentions to hide the motive. We spoke about what we thought and spoke from our hearts. We have never been motivated by religious hatred, and it is very cruel to appoint such motives on us, because we’ve had to live with this motive for 5 months already. Because we are being accused by everyone, by the investigation and by the accusing side, more than that, there is a whole negative campaign in the media against us and it is very hard to live with all this, especially where we are living now, in prison. A lot of people believe in everything they hear, they think that if it was said on TV, it is true, thus I see aggression towards myself, which is absolutely unreasonable, because I am not motivated by religious hatred and enmity. Simple people that I meet in the detention facility all understand that I was wrongly accused. After five months spent at the detention facility, the people that have gotten to know me understand that I am not someone who could commit a crime motivated by religious hatred and enmity. This can be confirmed by everyone I know, my parents, my teachers, whom with I discussed the questions of religion on numerous occasions. They all know that since the time I could have and express my own opinions, I was always interested in religion but not more than any other philosophical system. Thus I didn’t have any reason to have any negative emotions. Also I wanted to say that, yes, we breached the inside laws of the Church, yes I accept that…
Judge [interrupting]: You are not supposed to testify right now, but to express your opinion regarding the indictment.
Nadya: Yes, I understand, I am ready to accept that this is our ethical mistake, but it’s not criminal. There is no crime in it, so I do not plead guilty to this Article. I do not understand why, by breaching the Church’s internal routine, we are being accused of hating Christianity? It is bizarre. What we can be accused of is breaching the Church’s internal routine, which is part of an administrative article, not a criminal act. So I do not understand what I am doing here in court part of a criminal case. This is all.
Judge: Please Samutsevich, would you like to express your opinion regarding the indictment?
Katya: Yes, I will say it briefly. First of all I don’t agree with any of the paragraphs of the accusation, I think that such accusations are not substantiated and also fabricated…
Judge [interrupts]: Slow down, so we can write it in the protocol.
Katya: Okay. In particular be are being accused of religious hatred and enmity. I have never felt any hatred or enmity for any reasons, including religious. Yes I admit to what happened at the Cathedral on 21 February 2012, I admit my participation in the action. But it was a politically-civilian act which did not contain any religious motives, especially the motives of hatred and enmity in relation to the Orthodox believers. We stated this publicly several times. Also these motives haven’t been found neither in our texts, stored in our personal computers, nor in our actions, and not in the public information which was posted by our group. Thus, I believe that this case is fully fabricated for political reasons, which we have stated many times.
Judge: Is that all?
Katya: Yes. This is all.
Judge: Alekhina, please, would you like to express your opinion regarding the indictment?
Masha: Yes, I would like to. I would like to say that I do not plead guilty to the Article 212, paragraph 2, and I believe that throughout the investigation of the case on this Article, the ideological question is as important as the factual one, since we are talking about the motives. The motives originated from the ideology of the person and therefore we and the court cannot ignore this ideology. The prosecution is trying to ignore political and artistic elements, but they are essential because art is always a refraction of reality. Also I would like to state that I am grateful to our lawyers that our words and opinions were spoken and they were, in spite of the words of the prosecution, not at all for the press. We wrote them so the Christian believers, including our victims, can hear us. I know that it is difficult, but I believe that something bigger exists, and in this bigger space, where there is neither a slave nor a freeman, we will be heard. Thank you.
Judge: Is that all?
Masha: Yes.

The video ends

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