Vladimir Putin: ‘Pussy Riot shouldn’t be judged too severely’

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Russian president calls for leniency on detained Russian punks

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said that Pussy Riot should not face a severe sentence for their protest against him in Moscow.

Speaking to reporters during his visit to London yesterday, Putin said: “There is nothing good in what they did [but] I don’t think they should be judged too severely,” the BBC reports.

Yesterday (August 2), Jarvis Cocker, Johnny Marr, Alex Kapranos and Kate Nash were among a list of musicians who have signed a letter calling on Putin to release Pussy Riot. They wrote: “Dissent is right in any democracy and it is entirely disproportionate that they face seven years in jail for what we consider a preposterous charge of ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’.”

Three members of the Russian punk collective have been in detention since March of this year, after they staged a protest gig against Putin’s re-election. They are currently on trial in Moscow, facing up to seven years in jail on hooliganism charges. Their defence lawyer claims they are being deprived of sleep and are poorly fed.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested following an impromptu Pussy Riot performance at Moscow’s Christ The Saviour Cathedral, where the band sang a song called ‘Holy Shit’ as a protest against the Orthodox Christian church’s alleged support for Putin. Although Putin regained power in the last Russian election, the verdict has drawn accusations of fraud by his competitors

Shortly before their arrest, members of Pussy Riot spoke to NME, calling Putin’s reaction to their church protest “childish”. “We knew what the political situation was but now we’re personally feeling the full force of Putin’s Kafka-esque machine,” they said. “The state’s policy is based on a minimum of critical thinking and on a maximum of spite, and a desire to get even with those who don’t please it.”

Amnesty International have called for the release of the band members, arguing that they are “prisoners of conscience”.