Pussy Riot case: Putin jokes about orgies during 'moral' discussion

Supporters of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot walk through downtown Warsaw, Poland. Photo / AP
Supporters of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot walk through downtown Warsaw, Poland. Photo / AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin has joked about the benefits of orgies while drawing attention to the "moral side" of the Pussy Riot saga.

Putin made the comments during his first interview since his May inauguration on English-language Kremlin-funded channel Russia Today.

Pussy Riot members Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were jailed last month following an anti-Putin protest in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral calling on the Virgin Mary to remove the Russian strongman.

When asked about Pussy Riot, Putin at first told Russia Today he does not recognise the English name of the band.

"You've been working in Russia for a while now and maybe know some Russian," he tells interviewer Kevin Owen. "Could you please translate the name of the band into Russian?"

Putin eventually goes on to share his thoughts about Pussy Riot, whose name he describes as "obscene".

He would not comment on the two-year sentence handed out to three of the band's members, but he would talk about the "moral side" of the story.

"First, in case you never heard of it, a couple of years ago one of the band's members put up three effigies in one of Moscow's big supermarkets, with a sign saying that Jews, gays and migrant workers should be driven out of Moscow. I think the authorities should have looked into their activities back then," he said, referring to jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's involvement in the activist group Voina.

According to Voina the supermarket protest was actually an attempt to highlight the Government's own anti-Semitism, xenophobia and homophobia.

"After that, [Voina] staged an orgy in a public place," Putin said referring to the group's 2008 protest against former President Dmitry Medvedev.

"Of course, people are allowed to do whatever they want to do, as long as it's legal, but this kind of conduct in a public place should not go unnoticed by the authorities. Then they uploaded the video of that orgy on the internet. You know some fans of group sex say it's better than one-on-one because, like in any team, you don't need to hit the ball all the time.

"Again, it's okay if you do what you like privately, but I wouldn't be that certain about uploading your acts on the internet. It could be the subject of legal assessment, too."

Putin described Pussy Riot's protest at Yelokhovo Cathedral as "causing unholy mayhem".

"You know, Russians still have painful memories of the early years of Soviet rule, when thousands of Orthodox, Muslim, as well as clergy of other religions were persecuted. Soviet authorities brutally repressed the clergy. Many churches were destroyed. The attacks had a devastating effect on all our traditional religions. And so in general I think the state has to protect the feelings of believers.".

The band's defence argued the band's actions were a political protest - against Putin - and was not driven by religious hatred.

Putin said he has had no involvement in the Pussy Riot case, and has not been following it that closely.

"If [Pussy Riot] appeal, a higher court is empowered to take any decision," he said, in response to a question about the possibility of an early release. "To be honest, I try to stay as far away from the case as possible. I know the details but I do not want to get into it."

Also in the interview Putin touches on the APEC meeting in Vladivostok, the US Presidential Election, the Julian Assange extradition saga and the ongoing conflict in Syria.

- HERALD ONLINE

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