x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Punk rocker asks Russian court to defer jail sentence

A member of the feminist 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.

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

Maria Alekhina is arguing that separation from her child now will do him irreparable psychological damage.

Alekhina is petitioning the court in Berezniki, a remote Ural Mountains town near where she is serving her jail sentence, to make the extremely rare decision to let her defer her term until her son is 14.

She was convicted last year along with two other band members of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for an anti-president Vladimir Putin stunt in Russia's main cathedral. One of the women had her sentence suspended on appeal.

Alekhina said 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. Her 5-year-old son, Filipp, is going through his formative years and cannot be without her, she added.

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

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