Russia's Ombudsman Calls Pussy Riot Prison Sentences 'Excessive'
August 23, 2012
Russia's human rights ombudsman has called the prison sentences against three women from the punk group Pussy Riot "excessive."
On August 23, Vladimir Lukin said the women, who staged a protest in a Moscow Orthodox cathedral against President Vladimir Putin's rule in February, had committed "a misdemeanor, not a [criminal] offense."
The women were sentenced last week to two years in jail after a Moscow court found them guilty of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred."
Lukin, a parliament-appointed ombudsman, said he may lodge a complaint if the sentences are upheld on appeal.
The sentencing has sparked protests in Russia and around the world, with Western governments and rights groups denouncing the jail terms as disproportionate.
The Kremlin has warned against "hysterics" over the ruling.
Based on reporting by Reuters and ITAR-TASS
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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