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Medvedev dismisses criticism of Pussy Riot trial


Russia

Medvedev dismisses criticism of Pussy Riot trial

Three members of Russian punk girl band Pussy Riot have pleaded not guilty to charges of hooliganism at their trial in Moscow.

They face up to seven years’ jail after singing a raucous song in Moscow’s main cathedral in February to protest against Vladimir Putin.

They band stormed onto the altar to sing a “punk prayer”, seeking to highlight what they say is a close relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the president.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has dismissed criticism of the case.

“In some countries, the responsibility for such actions would receive much more severe treatment and I won’t even speak about the fact that under some political circumstances, these actions could end up quite sadly for those who commit them,” he said.

That argument was not good enough for the band’s supporters outside the court – the same as the one where former oil tycoon Mikhail Khordorkovsky was convicted.

Challenging Medvedev’s comments, Pussy Riot’s lawyer Violetta Voklova said:
“Are we talking about countries where they stone people to death? If we talk about those countries, then it’s strange to compare Russia to them. If Medvedev thinks that we should now descend to clericalism and that a secular state is not the path that Russia should choose, then yes, of course, we should pay attention to such statements of his.”

The three members of Pussy Riot are charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility. Amnesty International has called for their release.

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