Feminist punk rockers criticized for stunt
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Thursday criticized the feminist punk rockers facing trial for performing a “punk prayer” against him at Moscow’s main cathedral, but said that a punishment for them shouldn’t be too severe.
Putin’s comments to Russian reporters on a visit to the London Olympics were the leader’s first reaction to the trial of three members of the Pussy Riot band, whose imprisonment has drawn international outrage. It may signal that the Kremlin has opted for a milder punishment for the women than the seven years they could face.
Asked about the case, Putin said that the stunt “was no good” and would have entailed a much tougher punishment for its participants if they had performed it at a holy site in Israel or even death if they had done it at some Muslim site in Russia’s North Caucasus region.
“If they went to desecrate some Islamic holy site, we wouldn’t even have had time to take them into custody,” he said before suggesting that they had already learned their lessons and mustn’t face an especially tough punishment.
“I don’t think that a verdict should be very severe,” he said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies. “I hope that the court will make a fair, well-founded ruling.”
Courts in Russia closely heed signals from the government, and Putin’s statement sounded like a clear sign that the verdict for the rockers might be milder than anticipated.