2013-04-03 10:04:00

Ombudsman Lukin calls for freeing Pussy Riot members on parole

Moscow, April 3, Interfax - Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin has called for granting parole to the women from the Pussy Riot female punk band, who were earlier sentenced to two years in prison each for their stunt at the Christ the Savior Cathedral.

"We expressed our disagreement with the court ruling convicting these two ladies, because we consider this conviction excessive," Lukin said at a press conference at the Interfax main office.

"Certainly, we do not support people asserting themselves in their way at prayer houses. There are a lot of other places for this, and we do not approve of this kind of activity," Lukin said.

However, such stunts, if they do not cause significant damage to people or property, "should be regulated at the administrative level, not the criminal one," he said.

"Surely, we believe the sooner they are freed and the sooner they think about their further lives close to their families and their children, the better and more humane," he said.

Lukin said his attitude toward the sentence has not changed.

"We are doing what we can, using the levers available to us according to the law," he said. Two Pussy Riot members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were sentenced to two years in prison each for a performance at the Christ the Savior Cathedral on February 21, 2012. Another Pussy Riot member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was given a suspended sentence. The women do not recognize their guilt, and human rights activists have insisted that their conviction is too severe a punishment for what they did.