Court bailiffs barring opposition activist Navalny from testifying for defense at Pussy Riot trial

Court bailiffs at Moscow's Khamovnichesky Court are barring opposition activist Alexei Navalny from entering the courthouse to testify for the defense at the trial of several members of the Pussy Riot feminist punk band accused of disorderly conduct at the Christ the Savior Cathedral.

Navalny attempted to enter the courthouse but bailiffs stood in his way on Friday afternoon.

The defense attorneys in the Pussy Riot trial are currently trying to make sure that Navalny can enter.

"Judge Marina Syrova instructed the bailiffs not to admit defense witnesses to the courthouse," lawyer Violetta Volkova told journalists.

Defense attorneys signaled their intention to invite Navalny to the court as a witness on Thursday.

"We intend to file a request on summoning Alexei Navalny to the court as a witness for the defense. He has already given us his consent and will come here following his own hearings currently under way at Moscow's Basmanny Court," lawyer Mark Feigin told journalists.

Navalny planned to try to persuade the judge in his testimony that Pussy Riot's controversial performance at the Christ the Savior Cathedral was a political action rather than that targeting the Orthodoxy.

"All the time that the proceedings have been under way, the prosecution has been trying to present the girls' actions at the church as disorderly conduct aimed at fomenting hatred and enmity toward Orthodox believers. We are determined to act in just the opposite manner, and we hope Navalny will help us in this," he said.

Other defense witnesses who are already present in the courthouse include Islamic theologian Teodor Jamal and prominent author Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Feigin said.

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