News / Europe

    Russia's Putin Hints at Leniency for Punk Rockers

    Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks to the media during his visit to Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street in London, Aug. 2, 2012.
    Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks to the media during his visit to Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street in London, Aug. 2, 2012.
    VOA News
    Russian President Vladimir Putin says he does not favor harsh punishment for members of a punk rock band on trial in Moscow for alleged hooliganism.

    Putin's comments Thursday to Russian reporters are his first public pronouncements on the February arrest and prosecution of three members of the all-girl band Pussy Riot.

    The defendants, who have spent the past five months in jail, were arrested after performing a political "protest prayer" at Moscow's main cathedral, just weeks ahead of elections that returned Putin to the presidency.  Their trial, which has drawn international attention, opened Monday.  The defendants facing possible seven-year prison terms if found guilty.

    Earlier Thursday, leading British musicians, including Pete Townsend of The Who, called on Russia to free the defendants.

    In an open letter published in The Times of London, the musicians described the charges as "preposterous" and called the cathedral performance "legitimate political protest."

    The letter was published as Putin arrived in London for talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

    Afterwards, Cameron said he raised the issue of the band with the Russian leader as part of wider discussions of human rights.

    Putin, who is facing growing criticism for trying to silence dissent, has in the past issued carefully phrased comments about high-profile court cases that appear just ahead of final verdicts.

    In 2010, he famously said "a thief belongs in prison" as a Moscow court deliberated the fate of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.  Days later, the court found the defendant guilty of embezzlement and money laundering and issued a six-year sentence. The oilman and a co-defendant were already serving eight-year terms for fraud.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: ADEL ALSHEAR from: STOCKHOLM . SWEDEN
    August 05, 2012 8:08 AM
    THIS IS A GO K G B . THIS IS A GO K G B . THIS IS A GO COMMUNIST RUSSIA POLITIC PARTY. THIS IS A GO COMMUNIST RUSSIA POLITIC PARTY.

    by: Lara
    August 03, 2012 12:16 PM
    So,why,Mr Liar,will you not let them go?!

    by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
    August 03, 2012 10:03 AM
    The drag of the story prolonged the list of Martyrs already created under his pitiless rule: Khodorkovsky-Politkovskaya-Magnitsky… The girls inflicted personal injury in their improvised prayer by doubting that he (KGB man) would be the only choice of God to rule Russia as was proclaimed by Gundyayev (aka Patriarch Kirill) claimed to be KGB man too. The story aimed to frighten both Russia’s capital cities where his rating hit record low. Who else in G8 or G20 creates Martyrs to cling to power?

    by: Anonymous
    August 02, 2012 10:25 PM
    Putin is stupid for even letting this story drag on so long. He should of just had the kids thrown out of court and give them a slap on the wrist. How much $ have these kids cost the government with their case? Throw it out, move on... This story about these girls singing about the Russia Government is just singing the truth anyways. The longer the Russian gov. holds on to these kids, the more popular these girls get. If this happened in the west they would of been ticketed and sent home OR they would of been completely thrown out of court. Don't waste the courts time with stupid stuff...

    by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
    August 02, 2012 8:54 PM
    It’s obvious that Putin at last realized that he has lost more in public & world opinion than he will gain from the farcical ‘justice” and predetermined verdict that his cronies have organized. Even executives in his “pocket” United Russia party called the “trial” as shameful for international image of Russia. In unity is our force!

    by: Truth is the Traitor from: Canada
    August 02, 2012 7:21 PM
    then why isn't putin in jail if that's where theif's belong?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora