Putin asks for leniency for punk rock band

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin is asking a court to show leniency for three members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot, who are on trial in Moscow on hooliganism charges.

The Pussy Riot members went on trial Monday, charged after performing a song criticising Putin in one of Moscow’s grandest cathedrals, Russia’s state news agency reported. The charge carries a potential seven-year sentence.

“Mother Mary please drive Putin away,” the women screamed, their faces covered in neon masks, inside Christ Saviour Cathedral in February.

While Putin criticised their performance, he said yesterday, “Still, I do not think they should be judged too harshly for that.”

He added that he hoped the court makes “the right decision”.

Pussy Riot specialises in sudden, often illegal public performances, including one in Moscow’s Red Square.

The punk prayer was inspired by the women’s anger about the relationship between the Russian government and the Orthodox Church, according to the band’s manager, who is married to one of the suspects.

The Orthodox leader Patriarch Kyril has been widely reported as saying Putin’s years in power have been a miracle from God.

The band’s behaviour in one of Russia’s most sacred cathedrals has outraged many of the country’s faithful. (CNN)

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