Pussy Riot Members Suing Russian Government

Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova onstage at the Amnesty International Concert in Brooklyn, New York.

Monica Simoes

Two members of Pussy Riot are suing the Russian government in a European court for human rights violations over their arrest after the punk band's demonstration at a Moscow cathedral in 2012.

Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who received amnesty late last year after serving 21 months in prison and pre-trial confinement, are each seeking €120,000 (more than $161,000) in compensation, plus €10,000 (more than $13,000) in court fees.

They claim that the investigation and prosecution violated their rights and amounted to torture, according to the Guardian. The suit was filed the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Pavel Chikov, the head of the human rights legal group Agora, which is representing Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova, says the two women didn’t receive a fair trial in Russia, which is why they’re taking it to the ECHR.

"Plus they want this case to set a precedent that Russians can speak publicly on sensitive political issues, even if this speech is not supported by majority,” Chikov told the Guardian. “This is a case about freedom of expression and fair trial first of all."

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova claim that Russia violated four articles of the European convention on human rights guaranteeing the rights to freedom of expression, liberty and security and a fair trial, and prohibiting torture, the Guardian reports.

If they win, Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova will attempt to overturn their criminal conviction in the Russian courts. They’ve also pledged to give away any compensation to human rights organizations, according to the Guardian.