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Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday called for three members of the punk band Pussy Riot to be freed, a sign that the women’s release could be imminent since their case comes up for appeal on Oct. 1.
The band members were arrested for performing a raucous prayer inside Moscow’s main cathedral asking Virgin Mary to save Russia from Vladimir Putin as he headed into the election that handed him a third term as president. They had already spent more than five months in jail when they were convicted in August of “hooliganism driven by religious hatred” and sentenced to two years in prison.
By being the one to call for the women’s release, Medvedev, who has cultivated the image of a more liberal leader, could allow Putin to put the uncomfortable case behind him while not appearing weak.
The outward appearance of the women, who perform in bright-colored miniskirts and balaclavas, and the “hysteria” accompanying them made him sick, Medvedev said with disdain. But he said keeping them in prison any longer would be “unproductive.”
“In my view, a suspended sentence would be sufficient, taking into account the time they have already spent in custody,” he said during a televised meeting with members of his United Russia party in the city of Penza. READ FULL STORY »