Earlier today, a Moscow City Court freed Pussy Riot punk band member Yekaterina Samutsevich on appeal. The two remaining imprisoned band members, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, are still required to serve their two-year sentences.
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. Samutsevich's lawyer argued to the court that she was not a participant in the protest staged in February. Grounds for her appeal were based on Samutsevich's removal from the scene by officials before the start of the group's protest.
Following the news of Samutsevich's release, Mark Feigin, a defense lawyer said "we're glad that Yekaterina Samutsevich has been freed, but we think the other two girls should also be released". Additionally, in a statement released on Wednesday, Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA,said, "The persecution of Pussy Riot has become a global symbol of President Putin's shameless intolerance for criticism and determined crackdown on freedom of expression and association."
Musicians and human rights groups around the world have been standing in solidarity with the radical feminist band both online and in the streets. Amnesty International has named the women prisoners of conscience, and artists like Sting, Peter Gabriel, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are speaking out in support. Tolokonnikova, Samutsevich, and Alyokhina were found guilty of "hooliganism" in August. Since then, Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev has announced support of their release.
Media Resources: Reuters 10/10/12; Feminist Newswire 09/14/12; You Tube 07/29/12; BBC News 10/10/12; Washington Post 10/10/12; Amnesty International; Feminist Newswire 8/17/12
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. . . .