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Court Cases

Pussy Riot band member remains defiant in face of parole denial

A jailed member of the punk band Pussy Riot lost her parole bid in a Russian court over her involvement in the August 2012 protest song her band sang in Moscow's main Orthodox cathedral. She remained defiant in court.

The ruling from the Supreme Court of the Mordovia region denied Nadezhda Tolokonnikova parole on Friday, instead upholding an earlier decision not to release her after nearly a year behind bars.

Tolokonnikova had hoped she could return home to care for her five-year-old daughter. Yet she appeared before the court in an unrepentant fashion, stating that prison would not correct her behavior.

"The time I served in prison has done nothing for my correction, therefore I see no sense in keeping me behind bars," she told the court.

No 'guilt'

She also refused to plead guilty, which might have won her favor in the court.

"I do not admit guilt and will not plead guilty. I have principles upon which I will stand," she said from the cage, often used for defendants or convicts in Russian courts.

Both Tolokonnikova, 23, and Alyokhina, 25, are being held in remote prison colonies. Last year's "punk prayer" song against Putin's close ties with the Russian Orthodox Church shocked many Orthodox believers. While performing, the band wore brightly colored masks, tights and short dresses.

The ruling was the second blow for the band in three days, after Maria Alyokhina, another band member, was denied release on Wednesday.

Both were sentenced in August 2012 on hooligan charges for performing a protest song in the cathedral.

The conviction has been questioned as potentially a political clampdown on dissent.

Tolokonnikova's fight for release, however, has not ended. She has vowed to continue seeking release. "I will appeal my sentence to the last, including in the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation," Tolokonnikova said on Friday.

tm/dr (AFP, dpa, Reuters)