2012-08-20 11:57:00

Pussy Riot should have been sentenced to correctional labor - Russian senator

Moscow, August 20, Interfax - While the verdict in the Pussy Riot is fair, the young women should have been sentenced to correctional labor, not to imprisonment, the Federation Council said.

"They should have been sent not to a prison where they will eat bread at the government's expense and do nothing and bring no benefit. Instead, they should have been sentenced to correctional labor so that by doing physical work they could realize what they did," said Mikhail Kapura, member of the Federation Council Committee for Legal and Judicial Affairs.

Speaking in plain legal terms, there was a fact of hooliganism in the convicts' actions, he told Interfax.

"And this fact of most cynical hooliganism is obvious, and it was proved, no matter how the defense of Pussy Riot tried to disguise it, and the court did prove the degree of each of the women's involvement in this hooliganism," he said.

From the very first day of this prank, none of them has expressed any remorse, Kapura said.

"They were aware of their actions. Moreover, they knew that these actions could have most serious consequences, yet they did it and got what they deserved," he said.

At the same time, there are certain flaws in the way investigators and the court worked in this case, he said. "This case has highlighted the low professionalism of both investigators and the court. Tell me please, what made them keep these women in custody for six months? Was there any need for that?" Kapura said.

The actions and consequences of the legal process proper were absolutely ill-considered, including on the part of the prosecution, he said. "On the part of the court, there was downright protraction in this case, which eventually led to protests in support of this so-called band in all countries. And such fame for these women was the result of low professionalism of investigators and absolute irresponsibility on the part of the court. One should have been aware that in the event of protraction such a high-profile case would lead to very sad consequences for our society as a whole," the senator said.

The inquiry should have been completed within a month, and the court should have done its work within a week, he said. "There was nothing complicated there from the start, and if all this had been over within a month or a month and a half, everyone would have long forgotten about these Pussy Riot. Now, because of this protraction, there will be shouts at every corner that these innocent sheep were convicted, even though these people broke the law in a most cynical way," Kapura said.

Nevertheless, the Pussy Riot case will not affect Russia's international image, he said. "Such a rotten case cannot affect Russia's image in any way, and Mr. McCartney, instead of speaking out in support of these young women, should have concerned himself with the situation in his own country where an angry mob attacks the embassy of a sovereign state," Kapura said.

The verdict and the whole situation around Pussy Riot will have no effect whatsoever on Russia's international positions, said another Russian senator, International Affairs Committee Deputy Chairman Valery Shnyakin. "All those who are now trying to accuse our country of suppressing the freedom of speech or some civil liberties, must be perfectly aware that the freedom of speech and hooligans' pranks have nothing in common," Shnyakin told Interfax.

"These hooligans and their defenders have succeeded, having allowing this group of people to get publicity on a global scale," the senator said. Today the society is split, with one part which respects the moral and spiritual traditions and defends the state's interests not being satisfied with the two-year-prison term, considering it too short, he said.

"Actually, I am not sure that this whole story will end with just a prison term for these women. It is not ruled out that some religious believer traumatized by their prank could resort to a mob trial once they are released from prison and their life would be in danger," Shnyakin said.

Human rights activists should rather concern about the lives of tens of thousands of women who went to prison for lesser wrongdoings and have young children too, he said.

"It is odd that this situation is being ignored by our home-grown human rights activists, and here they shout at every cornier that the mothers of young children are being convicted," the senator said.

The convicted women knew what they were doing, and the verdict will be a good lesson not only for them but also their future copycats, he said. "I feel very sorry for the children and parents of these convicted women who never repented what they did, spitting into the soul of believers. And now the believers are rightly denouncing them because these hooligans desecrated the most sacred - the feelings of believers of which there are tens of millions in our country," Shnyakin said.