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Svetova Zoe, Victoria Charochkina - The New Times

Specially assigned judges. Controllability of Russian court stopped being a secret long before the Pussy Riot process and arrests of those who were (or were not) at Bolotnaya Square on May 6. But whoever dictates the verdict, personal responsibility for it always falls on the judge.

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On August 17 judge Marina Syrova, a fifty-years-old woman with a once and for all frozen grimace of disgust on her face, will pass sentence upon three members of Pussy Riot. “She is of prosecutor kind, judges with hammer, bitchy, can break out cursing during process”, a former judge of one of Moscow district courts concisely characterizes his colleague. Is there any chance for the sentence to be acquittal? Upon hearing this question the New Times interviewee is genuinely surprised: “Are you serious? That would be fantasy. There are rules of the game. A judge, who would break them, would be immediately led to a psychiatric hospital for examination. If such sentence passed, it would be immediately cancelled by another judge, and the person that you’ve set free would, in the best case scenario, leave the courtroom on their own feet – then they would still be kept in custody, and your act would be appreciated by no one.”

The Pussy Riot grotesque process has attracted so much attention that if you type letters “su...” (“sudia” is the Russian for “judge”) in Yandex search string (Russian search engine) “judge Syrova” will be the first suggestion. Meanwhile, until recently Marina Lvovna remained in the shadow of her immediate superior – Khamovniki Court Chief Justice Viktor Danilkin – and known only for her affiliation with the case of the Moscow Palace of Youth ex-General Director Pavel Zabelin. In 2010 Syrova sentenced him to eight years in prison for theft of MPY stock (in all her judicial career she passed a more severe sentence – ten years – only on thief in law Tariel Oniani). According to Zabelin himself, his case was directly linked to the case of Yukos chief security official Alexey Pichugin, that he participated in as a witness. Zabelin claims that he was offered to bear false witness against Yukos top-managers, particularly Leonid Nevzlin and Pichugin, but he refused – and as a result became involved in a criminal case himself, was forced to leave for Germany and then found refuge in Estonia (both countries declined his extradition to Russia). The New Times managed to get in touch with Pavel via email. “Judge Syrova is a horror”, he replied when asked to comment on the Pussy Riot process given his personal experience. “This person, as I know, is absolutely dependent and is entirely under Danilkin’s control, a true soldier of Putin’s vertical. My sentence for the most part consisted of the letter of accusation, refutation of the defense arguments concerning my innocence didn’t find place in it. Adherence to adversarial principle was out of question: Syrova refused to question me, refused to question each and every one of f the defense witnesses and declined all of my lawyer Vladimir Ilyin’s requests. Courts of two European states – Higher Regional Court of Brandenburg (Germany) and Harju Court in Estonia – concluded that my criminal case was fabricated. My conclusion is obvious: the sentence against the girls will be what Putin wants it to be, Syrova is but an actress in his show.”

Among about 180 Syrova’s published sentences there is only one acquittal verdict. However, it is worth to note that in violation of law the majority of Russian courts of general jurisdiction publish only a small number of their sentences on the Internet, so the count is always doomed to be incomplete.

(EngPussyRiot - You may use this material with the reference to the source - http://eng-pussy-riot.livejournal.com)

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EngPussyRiot - collective of media activists is conducting informational support to the group Pussy Riot in English. Headquartered EngPussyRiot is in Russia, but the project involves people from all over the world. Read more...

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Aug. 18th, 2012 12:38 pm (UTC)
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EngPussyRiot - collective of media activists is conducting informational support to the group Pussy Riot in English. Headquartered EngPussyRiot is in Russia, but the project involves people from all over the world. Read more...

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