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Putin: Don't Judge Pussy Riot 'So Harshly'

Putin: Don't Judge Pussy Riot 'So Harshly'

A few months ago, the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot was jailed following a protest against the newly-elected Vladimir Putin. The whole case has become something of an international cause célébre, even more so after the group got six more months' detention.

But now Putin himself has called for the Russian justice system to ease up. Speaking to reporters, the Russian president said there was "nothing good" about Pussy Riot's protest, but he added, "I don't think that they should be judged so harshly for this...I hope the court will come out with the right decision, a well-founded one."

This is a dramatic about-face for Putin, who has been criticized for what many believe has been a government-sponsored crackdown on dissent in the country. Pussy Riot's defense lawyer, Nikolai Polozov, thought that Putin's remarks are "a gesture towards the West, towards the consumers of Russian energy resources and (Putin's) business partners," and he thinks the prosecution will now soften their attack as a direct result.

Over the last few months, human rights groups and big-name artists like the Red Hot Chili Peppers have called for the band's immediate release. [Reuters/Daily Swarm]

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