Russia warns against punk band hysterics

Russia warned the West against “hysterics” over the Pussy Riot sentencing on Monday as police said they were hunting members of the punk band still at large after the stunt mocking President Vladimir Putin.

“There is still the possibility of filing an appeal and the lawyers for the young girls plan to do so,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a visit to Helsinki in his government’s first official reaction to the sentencing. “Let’s not draw any rash conclusions and go off into hysterics,” the country’s top diplomat said.

On Friday three members of Pussy Riot were found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and handed two-year jail terms after they performed an anti-Putin song in Moscow’s leading cathedral in February.

The West decried the court ruling against Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich, calling it disproportionate and excessive.

Seeking to deflect criticism that the Moscow court merely fulfilled a Kremlin wish, Lavrov said the judge had acted independently and noted that Putin himself had called for leniency for the three women.

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