Samutsevich says she has no questions for replaced defense lawyers

Yekaterina Samutsevich, the freed Pussy Riot punk group singer, said her decision to change defense lawyers was a formal legal maneuver.

"It was my formal legal maneuver not connected with my former defense lawyers' work," Samutsevich said in an interview with Interfax on Thursday.

She said that with her new defense lawyer, Irina Khrunova, she put an accent again on some formal legal aspects.

"I want to thank my former defense lawyers for defending me in court and I have no questions for them," she said.

Samutsevich denied rumors she was in conflict with her former defense lawyers. "I had no conflict whatsoever with my former defense lawyers," she said.

Samutsevich requested during the appeal hearings at the Moscow City Court on Oct. 1 that her defense lawyers Mark Feigin, Nikolai Polozov and Violetta Volkova be replaced by other defense lawyers, saying that her position was at odds with that of her defense lawyers. The request was granted.

After the two other convicts said on Wednesday that they would not insist on changing the defense lawyers, the Moscow City Court adjourned the appeal hearings until Oct. 10 to allow Samutsevich to hire new defense lawyers and the new defense lawyers to read the case files.

Samutsevich signed a contract with defense lawyers Irina Khrunova and Farid Martazin a few days later and Khrunova said during the appeal hearings that the lower court had not paid due attention to the role each girl had played in the act at the Christ the Savior Cathedral. She said that Samutsevich had spent only 15 seconds inside the church and did not commit the act she was accused of. Khrunova also made a point that this was confirmed by the injured parties' evidence.

On Oct. 10, the Moscow City Court reduced the sentence handed down to Samutsevich, replacing her jail term with a suspended sentence, but upheld the verdicts passed on the other two punk singers.

Samutsevich was freed an hour after the court hearings. The other women were returned to their detention facility in Moscow. Officials with the State Penitentiary System then announced that the convicted women would not remain at the detention facility where they are presently being held and would be moved to another prison.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina's defense lawyers announced on Oct. 11 that their clients would not hire other defense lawyers and pledged to "fight for their release to the end."

Five members of the Pussy Riot punk group, wearing balaclavas, staged what they called an anti-Putin performance at the Christ the Savior Cathedral on February 21. The act and the subsequent litigation caused a strong public reaction, including abroad.

A criminal case was started against the singers on counts of hooliganism. Police detained three singers: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina. A court sentenced all three to two years in jail on August 17.

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