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You're reading: Russian minister defends Pussy Riot sentence

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Russia's justice minister is defending a two-year prison sentence handed down to members of rock band Pussy Riot, rebuffing European Union concerns that the punishment was excessive.

Alexander Konovalov says the sentence given to the three band members for hooliganism after they performed a “punk prayer” against President Vladimir Putin at Moscow’s main cathedral is a “a very subjective matter.”

Konovalov was responding Wednesday to EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom who repeated EU concerns that the sentence was disproportionate to a “peaceful expression of protest,” even though it may have offended many people.

Konovalov urged the EU to engage Russian authorities in dialogue on the issue instead of “coming up with a politicized assessment based on unverified information.”

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