Putin: Go Easy on Punk Band Pussy Riot
Defense hopes for 'softened' prosecution
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 3, 2012 3:51 AM CDT
Maria Alekhina, a member of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot, is escorted to a courtroom in Moscow.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

(Newser) – As a court decides the fate of Russian punk trio Pussy Riot, Vladimir Putin is having his say—and he doesn't sound hugely concerned about the band's protest in Russia's top cathedral. Though there was "nothing good" about the protest, "I don't think that they should be judged so harshly for this," Putin said in London, according to al-Jazeera. "I hope the court will come out with the right decision, a well-founded one."

He noted that "if the girls had desecrated something in, let's say, Israel" or Muslim parts of the Caucasus in Russia, they would have faced a tougher punishment. A defense lawyer sees the comments as "a gesture toward the West, toward the consumers of Russian energy resources" and Putin's "business partners"—and that could mean "some softening of the prosecution's position." Adds the husband of one band member: "Putin is Russia's court. He will decide the verdict in the end," and with the world watching, "he no longer wants to be a bloody dictator."