October 26, 2012 8:07

Vladimir Putin: 'If Pussy Riot hadn't broken the law, they'd be at home doing housework'

Russian president dashes any hopes of mercy for imprisoned Russian punks

Vladimir Putin: 'If Pussy Riot hadn't broken the law, they'd be at home doing housework'

Photo: PA

Russian President Vladimir Putin dashed any hope of mercy for the imprisoned members of feminist punk group Pussy Riot yesterday (October 25), saying that the group had broken the law and insulted the sanctity of the church.

"Whether the sentence was too much or too little is not for me to judge," he said. "That is a matter for the court." He then added: "If they had not broken the law, they would now be at home, doing the housework, or back at their jobs," the Belfast Telegraph reports.

Three members of the feminist punk band were sentenced to two years in prison in August after performing an anti-Putin song in a Moscow cathedral. One was released this month.

Speaking at a meeting with Russian international relations specialists, Putin denied that their conviction had anything to do with their condemnation of him, insisting that he had never heard of the group before. Dismissing Pussy Riot as attention-grabbers trying to shock, he referred to the Stalin-era mass killings of Orthodox priests: "Thousands of priests were shot for their faith and died in the camps," he said. "We have a duty to defend them, and the morality of the country."

In an interview in this week's NME, which is on newsstands now or available digitally, the freed member of the group has claimed that the Russian Government are listening to their telephones.

Yekaterina Samutsevich was released from prison on October 10 on appeal after her lawyers successfully argued that she hadn't even managed to take her guitar out of its case before being kicked out of the cathedral.

When asked if she will keep participating in Pussy Riot actions now she's free, Samutsevich replied: "Yes, I don't want to sit home and do nothing. But it's a more complicated situation for me now. I must act more carefully. They listen to our telephones."

Samutsevich speaks out as the two remaining imprisoned members of Pussy Riot have been separated and sent to prison camps far away from their families. The conditions in the camps are reported to be brutal, with the other members of Pussy Riot calling them "the harshest camps of all the possible choices", The Guardian reports.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who has a four-year-old daughter called Gera, has been sent to Mordovia, about 300 miles east of Moscow. Meanwhile, Maria Alyokhina, who has a five-year-old son called Filipp, has gone to Siberia's remote Perm region, which is about 700 miles east of the capital. The areas were used for mass prison colonies in the Soviet era.

To read the full interview with Yekaterina Samutsevich, pick up a copy of this week's NME which is on newsstands from today or available digitally.

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