Page last updated at 17:06 GMT, Tuesday, 11 September 2012 18:06 UK

Ashton's concerns over lack of Russian political reform

The EU's High Representative, Baroness Ashton, has said there have been "very few positive political reforms in Russia", following the re-election of President Vladimir Putin earlier in the year.

A foreign affairs debate on 11 September 2012 focused on the alleged "politicising" of the judicial system in Russia, after the imprisonment of the female punk rock band Pussy Riot, who were jailed for two years in August after staging an anti-Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.

The judge convicted them of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred", saying they had "crudely undermined social order".

The US, UK and EU all criticised the sentences as "disproportionate".

Baroness Ashton said there was "increasing intolerance of dissenting views" in the country, and urged the Putin government to guarantee freedom of expression in Russia.

However Czech communist MEP Vladimir Remek said the EU should focus on allegations of judicial abuse within its own borders before criticising other countries.

MEPs voted on a resolution setting out their concerns on the situation during the daily voting session on 13 September 2012.

The resolution describes the imprisonment of Pussy Riot as "deeply disappointing political intimidation".

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.

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