Russia slams EU parliament over Pussy Riot prize nomination
(MOSCOW) - Russia slammed Tuesday a group of European Parliament lawmakers for nominating jailed members of the punk band Pussy Riot for a rights prize, saying the move interfered with the Russian government's work.
The Russian foreign ministry issued a tough-worded statement after officials said earlier Tuesday that the three jailed members of the all-girl band had made the shortlist of five nominees for the European Parliament's prestigious Sakharov rights prize.
"The initiative by a group of European Parliament deputies can be considered nothing but a crude attempt to interfere with the work of the independent branch of the Russian government and an endeavour to question a decision of the court that delivered its verdict in due process," it said.
"We proceed from the fact that decisions of independent legal bodies including those in Russia should be respected," the statement added.
Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina were sentenced last month to two years in a corrective labour facility for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred".
The punishment, which caused a global outcry, came after the band burst into the country's main Orthodox cathedral to stage a protest against Russian leader Vladimir Putin in February.
"We hope that respect will be shown towards the memory of A. D. Sakharov as well as millions of Orthodox believers whose rights and feelings have been infringed upon as a result of the aforementioned illegal activities," the foreign ministry said.
Andrei Sakharov was a Soviet physicist and Nobel Peace Prize-winning dissident who for years defied the Soviet authorities.
Putin said earlier this month Russia was obliged to protect feelings of religious believers, and the country's parliament earlier in the day called for criminal charges for those who insult believers.
Text and Picture Copyright 2012 AFP. All other Copyright 2012 EUbusiness Ltd. All rights reserved. This material is intended solely for personal use. Any other reproduction, publication or redistribution of this material without the written agreement of the copyright owner is strictly forbidden and any breach of copyright will be considered actionable.