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Russian prime minister says Pussy Riot punished enough

September 12, 2012 |  5:20 pm

MedvedevRussian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday that the feminist punk rock trio whose jailing led to international outcry had spent enough time behind bars and should be freed.

Three members of Pussy Riot who staged a “punk prayer” against President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral were each sentenced last month to two years in prison for "hooliganism." The punishment was slammed by Western leaders and human rights groups as overly harsh and repressive after a trial that drew global attention from stars such as Madonna and Sting.

Russian media quoted Medvedev as saying that he was disgusted by what the women had done, but that continuing to imprison them seemed “unproductive.” He said they had already been adequately punished by spending five months in detention before trial, RIA Novosti reported.

His words raised hopes among Pussy Riot supporters that the trio might be freed in October, when a court hears their appeal.

However, one of their defense attorneys, Mark Feigin, cautioned the Reuters news agency that Medvedev "does not have the authority. He's not a politically influential figure in Russia's authoritarian hierarchy."

Before the women were sentenced last month, Putin said they shouldn’t be judged too harshly. However, it was widely believed that a light sentence would make Putin appear to have given in to pressure. The defendants could have faced as long as seven years in prison for their charges; state prosecutors had sought jail terms of three years each.

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev speaks at a meeting with activists of the United Russia party in the city of Penza southeast of Moscow on Wednesday. Credit: Dmitry Astakhov / Associated Press / RIA Novosti

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