LONDON, August 2 - RAPSI. President Vladimir Putin has disclosed that although he has no good word to say about Pussу Riot's actions, he believes they should not be judged "too severely" and is counting on a reasonable court ruling.
Group members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich have been in pretrial detention since their arrest in early March for an incident that some have lauded as a valid exercise of free speech, and that others have condemned as blasphemous. The three women face up to seven years in prison.
On February 21, five girls wearing brightly colored balaclavas stormed the altar of Christ the Savior Cathedral in downtown Moscow to perform an anti-Putin protest song they called, "Holy Sh*t."
Putin has said there was no discussion of the Pussy Riot trial at his meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron.
On the eve of Putin's visit, British newspapers published several appeals to the president (by former Foreign Secretaries Malcolm Rifkind and David Miliband, Chairman of the International Development Committee Malcolm Bruce, Article 19 Executive Director Agnes Callamard and well known film director Terry Gilliam) calling for a demonstration of new Russian democracy and for political prisoners like Pussy Riot to be set free.
The Pussy Riot hooliganism case is being tried by Moscow's Khamovnichesky District Court. The defendants have denied charges of hooliganism, but apologized to believers, saying they had had no intention of insulting them.