Almost a month after three members of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot were found guilty of "hooliganism" and sentenced to two years in prison, Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev said Wednesday that they should be released. Although Medvedev said he finds them 'nauseating,' he also said further imprisonment would be "unproductive."
Musicians, activists and human rights groups worldwide have been standing in solidarity with the Pussy Riot members both online and in the streets. In light of the proximity of Medvedev's comments and the band members' appeal date, October 1, the international community rallying around the slogan "Free Pussy Riot" may finally win.
In a case that has shed international light on the Russian government's intolerance of dissent, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, and Marina Alyokhina, 24, have been in jail since March, when they were arrested after performing (video) a "punk prayer" on the altar of Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral in dissent of Vladimir Putin. The members entered the church wearing bright colors and balaclavas, singing "Mother of God, Blessed Virgin, drive out Putin!" The band members said their intent was to challenge the Church's political support for Putin and to show their dissatisfaction with Putin's 12-year political dominance.
Today news also broke that the European Parliament has nominated Tolokonnikova, Samutsevich, and Alyokhina for the "freedom of thought" award, or the Sakharov Prize, for special contribution to the protection of human rights. The prestigious award is named after Soviet human rights activist Andrei Sakharov, and comes with a 50,000 euro award. The winner of the prize will be announced in December. Its first recipients were Nelson Mandela and Soviet dissident Anatoly Marchenko in 1988.
Media Resources: Feminist Daily Newswire 8/17/12; New York Times 9/12/12; Associated Press 9/12/12; RIA Novosti 9/14/12; USA Today 9/14/12
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .