Russian Prime Minister Says Pussy Riot Members Should Be Freed

Dmitry Medvedev calls prison sentence 'terrible burden'

Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot during a court hearing in Moscow
Andrey Smirnov/AFP/GettyImages
Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot during a court hearing in Moscow
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Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev showed sympathy for the imprisoned members of Pussy Riot at a regional meeting for the ruling United Russia party today, the Wall Street Journal reports. He maintained that their two-year prison sentence is excessive. "The term is very strong. I would even say a terrible burden," said Medvedev in his televised response. "I don't want to replace the judge... but the time they have already served is, in essence, more than enough to make them think about what happened, whether it was from their own stupidity or for other reasons."

Medvedev also said that he believes a suspended sentence, including the six-plus months the women have already served, would have been enough. "Prolonging their time in prison in connection to this case seems unproductive," he said. Still, Medvedev said he was "sickened" by the group's acts and the "hysteria" they caused.

The three imprisoned members of Pussy Riot have appealed their convictions, while other members of the group have fled Russia to escape arrest. The group recently released a video thanking Madonna, Björk, Green Day, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and other artists for their public support while they burned a poster of Russian president Vladimir Putin.