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Tue Sep 02 01:37:36 SAST 2014

Pussy Riot lawyer denies accusations of Western support for band

Sapa-dpa | 12 September, 2012 14:20
Members of female punk band 'Pussy Riot', Yekaterina Samutsevich (left), Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina sit behind bars before a court hearing in Moscow. File photo.

A lawyer for Russian punk band Pussy Riot on Wednesday denied allegations made on state television that the group received financial support from the West.

"It's idiocy," said Mark Feygin, one of the band's lawyers. "The allegations, to put it mildly, are funny," he told the Interfax news agency.

Participants in a talk show late Tuesday on state TV channel Rossiya 1 alleged that Pussy Riot was partially financed by billionaire Boris Berezovsky, as part of a campaign to undermine the government.

Berezovsky, an outspoken critic of the regime of President Vladimir Putin, lives in voluntary exile in London.

Claims of a link between Berezovsky and Pussy Riot were groundless, and the band has no foreign backers, Feygin said.

During the programme, Aleksei Veshnyak, the leader of a conservative social group, said he believed Berezovsky stood behind the band's February flash-mob performance inside an Orthodox church, of their song, Mother of God Drive Putin Out.

Other panel members claimed, without providing evidence, that Pussy Riot members intended to bring about the ouster of the government, and that widespread international expressions of support of the band may have been purchased.

On August 17, three members of Pussy Riot - Maria Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samuzevich - were found guilty of hooliganism and inciting religious hatred, and sentenced to two years each in prison.

The trial drew widespread international criticism of Putin and the government from rights groups and celebrities such as Madonna and Elton John. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Monday called the sentences "disproportionate".

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Tue Sep 02 01:37:36 SAST 2014 ::