Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Search of Air Algerie crash site continues

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Sarkozy, Hollande and the scooter wars

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Confusion online over Air Algérie flight

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

When big companies want to do good

Read more

  • Second black box found at Air Algérie crash site in Mali

    Read more

  • Limited 12-hour humanitarian truce takes effect in Gaza

    Read more

  • US evacuates embassy in Libya amid militia clashes

    Read more

  • Kerry in Paris for new round of Gaza ceasefire talks

    Read more

  • French PM calls for calm ahead of banned Gaza protest

    Read more

  • Nibali rides serenely toward a place in Tour history

    Read more

  • Video: 'Lack of security' at MH17 crash site, FRANCE 24 reports

    Read more

  • In pictures: Devastation, debris at Air Algérie crash site

    Read more

  • Washington Post reporter and his wife arrested in Iran

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Lithuania’s Navardauskas wins 19th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Fans electrify the mood as Tour de France crosses the Pyrenees

    Read more

  • French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • Halal tourism on the rise

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

Europe

Putin requests leniency for Pussy Riot punks

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-08-03

Three female members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, who are facing trial and jail terms of up to seven years for performing a protest inside Moscow's main cathedral, should not be judged "so harshly", President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.

REUTERS - President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday the three women in the band Pussy Riot who performed a “protest prayer” at Russia’s main cathedral should not be judged too harshly, raising defence lawyers’ hopes that they could escape lengthy jail terms.

Putin’s comments, reported by Russian news agencies during his visit to London, suggested the three members of the punk band could escape the maximum seven-year jail term following international criticism of the Kremlin over the case.

Putin said here was “nothing good” about the band’s protest, Interfax reported.

“Nonetheless, I don’t think that they should be judged so harshly for this,” he said, adding that it was up to the court to decide the case. “I hope the court will come out with the right decision, a well-founded one.”

Western governments have criticised the prosecution of the women and human rights groups as well as Red Hot Chili Peppers and other performers have called for their immediate release.

Russian opposition leaders have depicted the trial as part of a crackdown on dissent since Putin began a third term as president on May 7.

A lawyer for the band members said Putin’s statements were a signal to Western critics, and to the judicial authorities trying the three women to show leniency.

“In my opinion this is a gesture towards the West, towards the consumers of Russian energy resources and (Putin’s) business partners,” defence lawyer Nikolai Polozov said at the court.

“Given the significance of such signals, we can expect some softening of the prosecution’s position,” he said.

He expressed caution in a remark on Twitter, however, saying: “To tell the truth, I don’t believe Putin. If the signal gets through and the court reacts, OK, but if not we will fight on.”

Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, offended many Russian Orthodox Christian believers with the protest on Feb. 21 on the altar of Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral.

Putin is Russia’s court

They are being tried on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred over the performance in which they called on the Virgin Mary to “throw Putin out!”

Opinion polls suggest many Russians believe the women, who have been jailed for about five months, should not face more time behind bars.

Prosecutors are to recommend a sentence at the end of the trial.

Pyotr Verzilov, Tolokonnikova’s husband, said Putin’s remarks could increase the chances the women would get suspended sentences and avoid further time in jail.

“Putin is Russia’s court . He will decide the verdict in the end,” Verzilov said. “He is feeling enormous pressure both at home as well as abroad and, obviously, under such circumstances he no longer wants to be a bloody dictator.”

The three have denied they were motivated by hate, and said they were protesting against close ties between church and state. They were particularly angered by the support the Russian Orthodox Church’s leader, Patriarch Kirill, gave Putin in his presidential election campaign this year.

Kremlin critics say Putin, who has ruled Russia as president or prime minister since 2000, wants to use the trial to paint protesters in a negative light.

“Even in the Soviet era, in Stalin’s time, the courts were more just,” Polozov said earlier on Thursday.

Since his inauguration, the former KGB officer has signed laws raising fines for protesters, tightening control of the Internet - often used to organise protests - and imposing tougher rules on foreign-funded campaign and lobby groups.

Putin, who spoke before leaving London after meeting British Prime Minister David Cameron and watching judo at the Olympics, suggested the women would have faced swift punishment without trial if they had put on a similar performance in Israel or in Muslim areas of Russia’s Caucasus.

“I think if the girls had desecrated something in, let’s say, Israel - there are some pretty strong guys there, you know - it wouldn’t be too easy for them to get out of there,” Interfax quoted him as saying.

“Or if they went to the Caucasus and desecrated some sacred Muslim place, we would not even have time to protect them,” he was quoted as saying.

Date created : 2012-08-03

  • RUSSIA

    Russian punks go on trial for anti-Putin performance

    Read more

  • RUSSIA

    Putin signs law branding NGOs 'foreign agents'

    Read more

  • RUSSIA

    Thousands take to the streets for anti-Putin protest

    Read more

COMMENT(S)