Friday, October 31, 2014


Russia

Putin Blasts Pussy Riot, Opposition In Birthday Documentary

Russian President Vladimir Putin (file photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (file photo)

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By RFE/RL
Russian President Vladimir Putin says the three jailed members of the all-female punk group Pussy Riot deserve their prison sentences and that jailed ex-oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky should ask for a pardon.

Putin made the comments in a television documentary about him aired on his 60th birthday on October 7.

The two-year prison sentences were what the Pussy Riot trio deserved, he said in the documentary, broadcast on Russia's state-controlled NTV channel.

"My first reaction was that they should ask believers for forgiveness and that would have been that," Putin said. "But they kept building it up, and so the whole case ended in the court slapping them with two-year jail terms, so there you have it. I have nothing to do with this. They wanted it and they got it."

The three women were convicted of hooliganism after performing a song critical of Putin and of the Russian Orthodox Church at Moscow's largest cathedral in February.

Khodorkovsky, the former head of the Yukos oil company and once Russia's richest person, is serving 13 years on charges of fraud and tax evasion.

Both cases, widely seen as politically motivated, drew international outrage and have come to symbolize the Kremlin's crackdown on dissent.

Putin also had harsh words for the Russian opposition, which he compared to a "husk" that needs to be discarded.

"I hope that the husk will be brushed away, in a natural way, and we will see bright, interesting, substantial people emerge [among the opposition] who can assume responsibility for certain areas, for certain aspects of public life, and probably for the entire nation," Putin said.

Much of the October 7 documentary, however, focused on more trivial details of the president's daily life, showing him eating breakfast, driving to work, and chiding his dog.

The documentary also played up the tough-guy image he has cultivated by depicting him swimming and lifting weights.

The program was one of a series of public displays of support for Putin staged on his birthday.

Critics have denounced the birthday festivities as a cult of personality.


With reporting by AP and ntv.ru

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