Artist News Legal

Putin says Pussy Riot Three “got what they asked for”

By | Published on Tuesday 9 October 2012

Pussy Riot

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered his viewpoint regards the Pussy Riot case, telling a TV programme he believes that the jailing of three members of the punk outfit for performing a protest song against him in a Moscow church was justified.

The comments, in a one hour programme celebrating the Russian leader’s 60th birthday this weekend, came as Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich prepare for their appeal hearing in a Moscow court, which is due to resume later this week.

As previously reported, the three activists were sentenced to two years in jail back in August for the protest earlier this year, after being found guilty of ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’. The conviction and sentence is widely seen as being the result of political influence on the Moscow court, and has been criticised by artists and free speech groups the world over.

Some were hopeful that the three might be released on appeal, even if the convictions were not overturned, after Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told reporters he believed a suspended sentence would be a satisfactory conclusion. A spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church also said it felt leniency should be shown if the defendants showed some remorse.

However, some key supporters of Alyokhina, Tolokonnikova and Samutsevich are pessimistic of anything changing on appeal, noting that the church’s statement was basically asking the three women to admit guilt, and while they have apologised for offending Russian Orthodox believers, that’s not something they are willing to do. And for those supporters, the timing of Putin’s own remarks regards the case is significant, and only increases their pessimism regards any outcome.

Putin told state-run TV channel NTV that, while he had no personal involvement in the case, the three women “got what they asked for”, adding: “It was right that they were arrested, and the court’s decision was right”.

Insisting the issue was one of morality rather than politics, Putin took issue with the punk outfit’s name, asking his interviewer to translate the group’s moniker. When the interviewer refused, the Russian ruler said: “You see, if you can’t say it in front of me, it means it’s an indecent word. These girls must be talented – they forced you all to say that word. Is that normal? One must not erode our moral foundation and undermine the country. What would be left then?”

According to The Guardian, a legal rep for the Pussy Riot Three has said that Putin’s comments were part of “a planned propaganda campaign aimed at getting the court to form a negative opinion. This is [designed to put] pressure on the court”.



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