Pussy Riot’s Alyokhina given one year of ‘restricted freedom’ as another Russian opposition figure is convicted in ‘sanitary case’

One of the leading stars of the Russian punk rock protest group Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina, has been sentenced to one year of restricted freedom in the so-called ‘sanitary case’ that has also seen measures placed on five others.

The court found Alyokhina guilty of inciting people to gather for unauthorized protests in violation of restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19. Some opposition figures have slammed the charge as a convenient way of silencing an anti-Kremlin voice.

Accusations of breaking sanitary rules have been leveled against 10 associates of jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny, who took part in protests earlier this year to demand that he be released from prison. Navalny is currently serving time behind bars for breaching the terms of a suspended sentence handed to him for his involvement in a fraud scheme concerning French cosmetics firm Yves Rocher. His supporters claim the judgment was politically motivated.

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Alyokhina is the latest to have her freedom restricted by court order, following in the footsteps of Navalny’s close ally Lubov Sobol and his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh, among others. Liusya Shtein, another Pussy Riot member, has also been given a similar sentence.

The restrictions include a curfew and a ban against traveling outside Moscow Region. Two of those who received court orders, Sobol and Yarmysh, fled abroad before their sentences could be imposed.

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Alyokhina shot to international fame in 2012, when her band was arrested after performing a punk song in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The three performers – Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich – were charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and were eventually sentenced to two years behind bars. They were released in 2013 before completing their sentences after the Russian parliament signed an amnesty law.

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