DHAKA: Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said he thought three Pussy Riot punk band members should be freed from prison.
The comments follow their conviction last month for a profanity-laced protest against Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral.
‘A suspended sentence, taking into account time they have already spent [in jail], would be entirely sufficient,’ Medvedev said in televised remarks, reports Al Jazeera.
Medvedev, who was president for four years until May, appeared to disassociate him from the two-year jail terms, which were also condemned by domestic rights groups, liberal Russians and opponents of President Putin.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred on August 17 after belting out a song criticising Putin, then prime minister, in Moscow’s main cathedral in February.
They have been in jail since March and their appeal against the verdict and two-year jail terms is due to start on October 1.
Western governments and singers such as Madonna condemned their sentencing as excessive and their lawyer Nikolai Polozov said Medvedev’s comments indicated the government was concerned about the level of criticism it has faced.
‘We see that the rhetoric is changing,’ Polozov said.
‘The authorities, in the form of Dmitry Medvedev, have realised that this story has gone way too far.’
BDST: 1411 HRS, SEP 13, 2012
Edited by Robab Rosan, Cultural Affairs Editor
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