Russia PM wants Pussy Riot members freed

3 Nov

Pussy Riot punk band members Maria Alekhina (right) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova. (RIA Novosti/Andrey Stenin)

Russia’s prime minister has said that members of the Pussy Riot punk band serving two-year prison sentences should be set free. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Friday that he detested the Pussy Riot act, but added the women have been in prison long enough and should be released. He made a similar statement before October’s appeal hearings, fuelling speculation about their possible release. Three members of the band were convicted on hooliganism charges in August for performing a ‘punk prayer’ at Moscow’s main cathedral during which they pleaded with the Virgin Mary for deliverance from President Vladimir Putin.

One of them, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on appeal last month, but the other two, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, were sent to prison camps to serve their sentences.

Medvedev’s latest comment is unlikely to take effect, since he is widely seen as a liberal yet nominal government figure whose pledges and orders are seldom followed through on.The band members’ imprisonment has come to symbolise intolerance of dissent in Putin’s Russia and caused a strong international condemnation. Their cause has been taken up by celebrities and musicians, including Madonna and Paul McCartney, and protests have been held around the world.

Source: Reuters

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