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.

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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?

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