Russia Must Pay Pussy Riot Members $55,000 in Compensation for Violating Their Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights ruled their arrest and detention for their punk protest in Moscow was "exceptionally severe."

Members of Pussy Riot including Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina in 2014. Photo by Andrej Isakovij/AFP/Getty Images.

The Russian government has failed in its attempt to overturn the artist-activist group Pussy Riot’s victory in the European Court of Human Rights. The Strasbourg court ruled in July that Russia must pay three activists some $55,000 in compensation for violating their human rights when they were arrested in 2012 after a performance art piece in a cathedral. Payment is due to the activists within three months.

Member of the group Maria “Masha” Alyokhina tweeted about the legal victory, writing: “There is good news. Learned suddenly that I was made a gift and paid almost half a million penalty issued by the bailiffs after the actions against the FSB… Hurrah!” The FSB refers to Russia’s Federal Security Service.

Three members of the feminist group, Alyokhina, Nadya Tolokonnikova, and Katya Samutsevich, were arrested after they performed a punk concert in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior, denouncing Vladimir Putin. They were sentenced to two years in prison for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.” Samutsevich was given parole a few months after the verdict, and the other two women were pardoned in December 2013.

At a hearing in July the court ruled that their “exceptionally severe” sentencing was a violation of the women’s human rights. The court emphasized the lack of consideration given to the lyrics of their “Punk Prayer” or the context of their performance, which criticized Putin but did not call for violence or incite hatred. The court ruled that Russia had violated five articles of the European Convention on Human Rights during their arrest and detention.

Russia appealed the ruling but on December 4 the European court rejected the request. Human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov tweeted that the ruling has now come into force, writing “The Russian authorities were denied the right to refer the case to the Grand Chamber. The sentence in the criminal case of Pussy Riot is subject to reversal, compensation of 48,760 euros is to be paid.”

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova are entitled to €16,000 (around $18,000) compensation, Samutsevich is to receive €5,000 ($5,600). The three are further entitled to €11,760 ($13,300) to cover their legal costs.

Tolokonnikova thanked their legal team calling Chikov, Ira Khrunova, and Damir Gaynutdinov “legal magicians.”


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