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“Why on earth are they still behind bars?”

Russia’s Human Rights Commissioner, Vldimir Lukin, has made the most unequivocal statement by an official to date about the incarceration of three members of the punk protest group Pussy Riot, who have been imprisoned since February after two attention-grabbing performances in Red Square and Moscow’s main Orthodox cathedral.  It is the latter performance that has drawn the most ire, offending Russia’s strong Orthodox sensibilities.  But despite his personal feelings about their actions, which he claims he took as a personal offense (‘I’m absolutely prepared to call myself an injured party’), Lukin clearly states that the ongoing imprisonment of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich is retributive and ‘absolutely against our law‘:

“There’s one problem that must be solved as soon as possible – it should preferably have been solved yesterday: why on earth are they still behind bars?” Lukin said.
“Some people are demanding that those ladies repent,” he said, adding that he expected that “in 15 or 20 years they will, most likely, repent.  But coercion as a way to achieve repentance is a totally unacceptable thing, one that smacks of Soviet-era dust,” Lukin said.

“My position is basically that, first of all, these young women behaved quite inappropriately, scandalously, and in that sense I don’t, of course, have any sympathy for them. Secondly, in a secular state this is by no means a criminal case but an administrative one at most. But the main point is that it’s a reason for serious thought.”