Walesa writes to Putin in protest against Pussy Riot sentence
September 10, 2012
Poland's former president and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking him to pardon three members of the opposition punk rock band Pussy Riot jailed for staging anti-Kremlin protest in a Moscow cathedral in February.
"I'm asking you to apply the right of pardon towards these activists," the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize laureate wrote in a letter published on the website of his foundation www.ilw.org.pl.
"I'm also asking you to consider legislative changes to abandon prison sentences for verbal offences,” Walesa wrote.
At the same time Walesa slammed Pussy Riot members for abusing a place of worship for political purposes, and at the same time said he disliked "the forms of expression used by the members of the group."
However, personal freedoms and the freedom of expression shouldn’t be restricted, Walesa said.
On August 17 three women from the band were sentenced to two years in a penal colony for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" after performing a "punk prayer" in which they asked the Virgin Mary to “chase Putin away”.
Two other women who performed in the church managed to flee Russia to evade capture.
The verdict sparked international protests against “ a disproportionate” punishment.