Putin 'hears' ombudsman opinion about Pussy Riot case

Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin raised the question of the Pussy Riot punk band members, whose trial ends on August 17, at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin. He gave an affirmative answer to the question whether he had spoken about Pussy Riot to Putin. Lukin said though that the meeting took place earlier, not on Thursday.

Lukin said he presented his point of view to the president. "He [Putin] said he heard me," Lukin said.

He also said he would consider a possible appeal from the Pussy Riot members. Putin said in London on August 2 he disapproved of Pussy Riot's performance at the Christ the Savior Cathedral but added "they should not be punished too strictly" and he expected a fair court ruling.

Masked members of the Pussy Riot punk band staged an anti-Putin performance at the Christ the Savior Cathedral on February 21, 2012. The action triggered a broad public response and three singers - Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina - were detained on hooliganism charges. Their custody was extended several times, most recently until January 12, 2013.

The Pussy Riot trial started in late July. The singers pleaded not guilty and emphasized that was a political action, which was not intended to offend believers. The prosecutor demanded three years in a general correctional institution for Tolokonnikova, Samutsevich and Alyokhina on August 7.

The sentence will be read out on August 17.

In turn, human rights defenders said that the biggest punishment the singers deserved was an administrative penalty for petty hooliganism. Amnesty International declared them prisoners of conscience.

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