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3 Pussy Riot Women Fall Ill in Court, Deprived of Sleep

3 Pussy Riot Women Fall Ill in Court, Deprived of Sleep

The three women of Pussy Riot accused of hooliganism after staging a protest in a central Moscow cathedral in February fell ill in court on Wednesday. Their defense lawyer, Violetta Volkova, said that the women have been woken at 5 am every day, not given anything to eat, and forced to stay in court up to 11 hours or more a day.

Volkova also said that the trial proceedings go on well past midnight most days, meaning the women, all in their 20s, were getting less than adequate sleep. They have been locked in a tiny holding cell between sessions that measures about a one meter wide and deep.

The Moscow Times reports that court officials tried to ban witness testimony during the trial from leaking to reporters, sparking speculation that the government and court officials are trying to squash negative publicity. The women were quickly attended to by doctors, although their condition remains a mystery to outsiders.

Critics of the trial and the prosecution of the Pussy Riot members believe that Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church are playing a political game and attempting to squash any opposition movements in a country with decreasing civil rights. The women have become the faces of Russian civil and women’s rights issues the world over.

Another 100 pages were added to the criminal case against the women on Tuesday night, leaving no time for their defense lawyers to read the material adequately. The court maintained that the time to read the case expired on July 9. The case is now around 2,800 pages long.

The three women have come to represent the Russian opposition movement on a global scale. Since current president Vladimir Putin was reelected to his seat of power in March, Russian support of opposition protests has grown by 10 percent, and now sits at a cool 42 points, the Moscow Times reports. Worldwide support for the three women has grown as well. Famous musicians, Russian artists and European political figures have come forward accusing the Russian government of hosting a politically motivated trial. Many people have also called for the immediate release of the women.

On Monday, the three women pleaded not guilty to the charges of hooliganism, which could mean as many as seven years in prison. They also stated that they meant no harm or foul against the religious community but were motivated by anger over Putin’s return to power. The harsh charges of hooliganism, rather than a simple misdemeanor, have made many critics wary of Putin’s intentions. He has already signed numerous laws cutting back the right to demonstrate, internet freedom and the privacy of NGOs.

The case has been moving along at a rapid pace and a verdict could be handed down by next week. A push for a speedy trial could also be seen as an attempt to punish the women before more international attention is pointed at Russia.

Related Stories:

3 Pussy Riot Members Start Hunger Strike

Anti-Putin Blogger Faces “Absurd” Charges of Embezzlement

Russians’ Internet Privacy Threatened by Putin’s Government

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Photo Credit: Andreas_tw Flickr

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59 comments

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7:30AM PDT on Aug 5, 2012

very sad

11:24PM PDT on Aug 4, 2012

Why not a picture of the women instead of some painted and costumed men?

8:17AM PDT on Aug 4, 2012

There seems to be a petition supporting the Pussy Riot women on care2.

5:02AM PDT on Aug 4, 2012

Thanks for sharing.

8:32PM PDT on Aug 3, 2012

Bridget N. - I'm flabbergasted I guess. and have no more time to spend with fools.

8:30PM PDT on Aug 3, 2012

Oh, gee - let me get tis straight. Russia is being a big peice of s*** again.

8:01PM PDT on Aug 3, 2012

the war on women is EVERYWHERE!

7:26PM PDT on Aug 3, 2012

I knew when Putin cheated his way back into office personal rights were going out the window - and quickly. That man has no more concern for individual rights in his country than Lenin did. In fact, if he has his way, Russia will revert to the ways of Lenin. It's a shame, too, as I felt Russia was making strides towards iindividual freedom. With him now in power, the people can kiss any hopes of that goodbye.

7:06PM PDT on Aug 3, 2012

This is so absurd. I feel for these women. I hope they are set free. Russia needs to join the rest of the world and treat people like they would want to be treated. Freedom of speach and the right to protest should belong to everyone.

5:05PM PDT on Aug 3, 2012

I hear Putin recommended leniency. I wonder what the Patriarch is afraid of; certainly not a gorup of twenty somethings?

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