Missing Passport Sparks Row
Published: November 21, 2012 (Issue # 1736)
MOSCOW — A member of female punk band Pussy Riot may ask for her former lawyers to be stripped of their legal status, a news report said Tuesday.
The news came a day after the band’s lawyers terminated their contract with the musicians, saying the publicity they had attracted to the case could harm their defendants.
Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, may petition a legal council to strip the lawyers of their licenses because one of them, Violetta Volkova, whom she fired in early October, has failed to return her passport, the keys to her apartment and the response to the band’s complaint to the European Council of Human Rights, Samutsevich’s new lawyer Sergei Badamshin told Kommersant.
Mark Feigin, another of the three former lawyers for the band, called Samutsevich’s move “a defamation campaign” against them “organized by the authorities” and said that the lawyers would hold a news conference in the next few days.
Kommersant claimed to have obtained an official letter written by Samutsevich and dated Nov. 11 to Volkova, Feigin and Nikolai Polozov, the third lawyer, asking them to return her belongings before Nov. 19, which they failed to do, Badamshin said.
Samutsevich told Dozhd television late Monday that she last saw her passport in Volkova’s hands on March 16, when a city court sanctioned her arrest.
Sometime after that, the lawyers separately told Samutsevich and her father that they didn’t know where her passport was, and the woman had to submit a request to the police to make her a new passport because she had lost the old one, the musician told Dozhd.
The request to disqualify the lawyers would be “an extreme measure, which we wouldn’t like to be driven to,” Badamshin said, according to Kommersant.
Samutsevich was released from custody in early October after she fired Volkova and pleaded partially guilty to the charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred over a February performance at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral that denounced President Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill.
The court replaced the two-year prison term for Samutsevich with a suspended sentence while the two other performers — Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, and Maria Alyokhina, 24, who pleaded not guilty to the charges — were convicted and started serving similar terms in late October.
On Monday, the band’s lawyers said they were terminating their contracts with Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, who will be represented by Irina Khrunova, the lawyer who successfully argued for Samutsevich’s release.