Statement from Minister Reynders on the "Pussy Riot" affair

date: 21 August 2012

Minister for Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders remains concerned about the "Pussy Riot" affair. Just like High Representative Catherine Ashton, he deplores the sentencing of the three band members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Ekaterina Samusevich, to two years in prison and deems the pronounced sentence to be disproportionate. The continued search for other members of the punk group and the detainment of the peaceful supporters raises further questions over the respect for freedom of expression in Russia.

Together with the EU partners, Minister Reynders is calling for a broad form of freedom of expression in Russian politics, society and culture. Russia must stimulate the citizens' participation in the decision-making process rather than restrict it, so that the country can realise its full development potential. Didier Reynders intends to bring up this issue at the next meeting with his Russian colleague, which is scheduled for late September.