Officials: Russia killer demands Pussy Riot freed

Associated Press
This image taken from TV footage  provided by The Associated Press Television News shows a place where two women stabbed to death were found under this sign on the wall of their apartment in the central Russian city of Kazan on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. The sign is presumably written with blood, prosecutors said adding that the murderer probably tried to mislead police by the writing that supports three members of the provocative feminist band jailed for their "punk prayer" at a Moscow cathedral.(AP Photo/APTN) TV OUT
.

View photo

This image taken from TV footage provided by The Associated Press Television News shows a place where two women stabbed to death were found under this sign on the wall of their apartment in the central Russian city of Kazan on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. The sign is presumably written with blood, prosecutors said adding that the murderer probably tried to mislead police by the writing that supports three members of the provocative feminist band jailed for their "punk prayer" at a Moscow cathedral.(AP Photo/APTN) TV OUT

MOSCOW (AP) — The bodies of two murdered women were found beneath a scrawled message demanding freedom for jailed members of Pussy Riot, Russian officials said Thursday. An investigator cautioned that the killer was possibly trying to mislead police by drawing attention to supporters of the punk provocateurs.

The Investigative Committee said in a statement that the women, aged 76 and 38, were killed late last week in their apartment in the central city of Kazan with the words "Free Pussy Riot" written on the wall in English, "presumably" with blood. The substance has not yet been confirmed, it said.

It did not provide the women's names and did not reveal details about their occupations or whether they had any connection to the band. Russian tabloid Lifenews quoted an unnamed investigator as saying that the bodies were disfigured by multiple stab wounds.

The jailed band members' attorney said on Twitter that "what happened in Kazan is horrible," calling the case "either a horrendous provocation or a psychopathic" case.

"I am sorry that some freaks are using Pussy Riot's band name," Nikolai Polozov was further quoted by Interfax as saying.

An investigator in Kazan said that the murderer was trying to cover up the crime by attributing the murder to the band's supporters.

The criminal "was trying to avoid suspicion" by misleading police, Andrey Sheptitsky said in televised remarks.

In mid-August, a Moscow court sentenced three band members to two years in jail for performing a "punk prayer" against President Vladimir Putin at a Moscow cathedral in February.

The murder in Kazan was immediately picked up by Russian media. Some publications ran headlines claiming unapologetically that Pussy Riot supporters "committed" or "inspired" a double homicide.

The coverage was full of the mostly negative terms used by Kremlin-friendly television networks and media in their coverage of the trial.

The country's dominant Orthodox Church has called the band's stunt sacrilegious. But hundreds of artists, musicians and other intellectuals have signed petitions urging authorities to free its members.

The leader of an Orthodox youth group that had accosted and assaulted Pussy Riot supporters, said they are capable of committing "any" crime.

"The infernal force that drives them hates God, believers and humankind in general," Dmitry Tsorionov told Interfax on Thursday. "These people are capable of committing any crime, and nothing but force and law can stop them."

Several wooden crosses that stood outside Orthodox churches in Russia and neighboring Ukraine have been toppled by people who claimed to be the band's supporters. The band's manager and husband of one of the jailed rockers said the band disapproved of the vandalism.

The trial, widely seen as Kremlin-orchestrated, caused an international furor. Celebrities such as Paul McCartney and Peter Gabriel urged Russian authorities to free the band.

A poll released Thursday by the state-run VTsIOM polling agency showed that one third of Russians consider the two-year jail sentence too harsh, while another 31 per cent found it appropriate. The survey questioned 1,600 people nationwide Aug. 25-26 and gave a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

.

View Comments