UK & World News

  • 16 January 2013, 14:29

Pussy Riot Mother Wants Sentence Deferred

A member of punk band Pussy Riot has asked a Russian court to let her serve the rest of her two-year sentence when her five-year-old son is a teenager.

Maria Alyokhina argues that separating her from her child now will do irreparable psychological damage to the boy.

Alyokhina is petitioning the court in Berezniki, a remote Ural mountains town near where she is imprisoned, to make the rare decision to let her defer her sentence until her young son is 14.

She was convicted last year, along with bandmates Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich, of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

The group had performed a "punk prayer" at Moscow's Christ The Saviour Cathedral, pleading with the Virgin Mary for deliverance from President Vladimir Putin.

Samutsevich's sentence was suspended in October after she said she had been thrown out of the cathedral by security guards before she could take part in the stunt.

Alyokhina told the Berezniki court that while she wants her sentence deferred, she refused to plead guilty.

"No one will force me to say I'm guilty - I have nothing to repent for," she said.

But she said her son Filipp should not be without her as he goes through his formative years.

"I'm in a situation where I have to prove here that my son needs me, which is obvious," she insisted.

Several dozen supporters and journalists gathered outside the court building, which was guarded by riot police - a rare situation for the small town.

Sentence deferrals are uncommon, and there are several prison colonies for female convicts with small children who raise their babies behind bars.

Pussy Riot have attracted a worldwide following calling for the release of the remaining two women, with their celebrity supporters including Madonna, Lady Gaga and Daryl Hannah.