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Medvedev calls for release of Pussy Riot punk band

Latest update : 2012-09-13

Russian premier Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday that he disapproved of the protests staged by punk band Pussy Riot but that it was "unproductive" for them to serve time in prison. Three band members were sentenced in August to two-year jail terms.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday he was sickened by the actions of punk band Pussy Riot but still wanted the women freed from a two-year jail term imposed over an anti-Kremlin protest.

"It seems to me unproductive in this case to prolong their time in prison conditions," Medvedev said at a meeting with members of the ruling United Russia party, quoted by the Interfax news agency.

Three members of the group were sentenced last month to two years in a corrective labour facility for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after they shouted out a protest song against President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main Orthodox cathedral.

"The punishment they have already endured being held in prison conditions for a quite significant time is fully enough to make them think about what happened, because of their stupidity or some other reasons," said the premier.

A lawyer by training, Medvedev said he would not want to "take the judge's place" but that in his view it would be sufficient for the women to serve suspended sentences, Interfax reported.

The women were detained in March and have been held in a detention centre ever since, even though two of them, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, have young children.

In one of his first public comments on the case, Medvedev said that he was tired of hearing about Pussy Riot and disliked discussing their performance.

Medvedev publicly embraced some liberal causes while serving as president following Putin's constitutionally-mandated resignation on his completion of a second term as Kremlin chief in 2008.

He ceded his place to Putin allowing the Russian strongman to run for a new six-year term in March, and has always been viewed as a loyal ally who listened to his mentor on pivotal matters such as high-profile trials.

Medvedev laced his comments about the women's punishment with strong criticisms of the band itself, suggesting their behaviour was not suitable for public discussion.

"What they did, and their appearance, and the hysteria that accompanies everything that happens makes me feel sick," Medvedev was quoted as saying.

"I find it unpleasant to talk about this. That is my personal attitude."

He spoke a day after state television aired a talk show describing the women as "blasphemers" and claiming that oligarch Boris Berezovsky was involved in organising the cathedral protest.

Medvedev's support for the women's release were welcomed by Pussy Riot's defence team who will appeal the verdict on October 1 at Moscow city court.

"The fact that he considers it unproductive for the Pussy Riot members to be imprisoned further, we consider correct and we support this," defence lawyer Nikolai Polozov told Interfax.

"If Moscow city court takes a similar legal position to Medvedev, of course we will take advantage of this. That will mean a certain success in the case, and we will be able finally to pull them out of the detention centre."

In an interview with RT state-funded television last week, Putin detailed protests carried out by the women including what he said was a public orgy while stressing he was "trying not to have anything to do with this case at all".

(AFP)

 

Date created : 2012-09-13

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