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1 Nov, 2023 19:02

Moscow court refuses to issue warrant for Pussy Riot founder

Investigators had sought to arrest Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in absentia for "insulting religious feelings."
Moscow court refuses to issue warrant for Pussy Riot founder

A Moscow court has refused a request from Russian investigators to arrest, in absentia, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of the founding members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot.

The decision was announced on Wednesday. The court did not offer any public explanation for its ruling.

The activist had been targeted by Russian law enforcement under a criminal probe into allegedly insulting “religious feelings.” Earlier this year, it was revealed that the case stemmed from remarks made by Tolokonnikova on social media, though the exact content was not clear. The activist left Russia a few years ago and is now believed to be residing in the US.

Tolokonnikova has repeatedly gotten herself into trouble with the law in Russia over her activities with the protest group ‘Voina’ (War) and with Pussy Riot. Back in 2012, she was jailed along with two fellow members of the band after holding a so-called ‘punk mass’ at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow – one that many religious people found offensive.

The performance was deemed by the court to be a “gross violation of public order, motivated by religious hatred and strafing.” Tolokonnikova was given two years behind bars for “hooliganism,” but was ultimately granted amnesty and released in late 2013.

Following her release, Tolokonnikova switched to journalism, founding alongside other members of Pussy Riot – including her then-husband Pyotr Verzilov – the online outlet Mediazona. The outlet has been exclusively focused on Russia’s jail and judiciary system, as well as on the alleged persecution of various individuals for their political views in the country.

In late 2021, Mediazona, Tolokonnikova herself, and other individuals associated with the outlet were placed on Russia’s “foreign agents” list. The move “was made on the basis of documents received from authorized government bodies. In particular, according to the information received, these individuals systematically distribute materials to an indefinite circle of persons while receiving foreign funding,” Russian authorities said at the time.

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