Pussy Riot: 'I Have No Regrets,' Says Yekaterina Samutsevich

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MOSCOW -- One year after the band Pussy Riot staged an anti-President Vladimir Putin stunt in Moscow's main cathedral that landed them in jail, a released band member said Thursday that she has no regrets.

Yekaterina Samutsevich told the Associated Press that she is glad that their punk performance made Russians more aware of the Orthodox Church's close ties with the Russian government.

"I have no regrets about the performance," she said in an interview outside Christ the Savior Cathedral. "Many people who did not know about the problem became aware of it: the problem in our society, in the Russian Church."

Samutsevich, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina staged the impromptu punk performance at the cathedral on Feb. 21, 2012, pleading with the Virgin Mary to "drive Putin away" from Russia.

The band's stunt drew the fury of some Orthodox believers and Patriarch Kirill although many believers pleaded for mercy.

The three were sentenced to two years in prison each for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, drawing protests around the world about Russia's intolerance of dissent. Samutsevich was later released on appeal.

Band members have insisted that their performance was not aimed at religion, but at expressing concern over the increasingly close ties between the Church and the government.

Samutsevich was released in October on appeal after she fired the three lawyers she had been sharing with Tolokonnikova and Alekhina and hired a new attorney who dwelled on the fact that Samutsevich was taken out of the church by security guards before she was about to join other members in the performance.

Samutsevich said on Thursday that with hindsight she would have done the same but "would have thought more about legal defense".

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