A university instructor on Friday confessed to killing two women in an apartment where a message demanding freedom for jailed members of the Pussy Riot band was scrawled on the wall and said the message was meant only to mislead investigators, news reports said.
The killing in the city of Kazan of a 76-year-old woman and her 38-year-old daughter attracted nationwide attention because of the Pussy Riot connection. Three members of the feminist punk band were sentenced two weeks ago to two years in prison in a politically charged case.
At a court arraignment, 38-year-old suspect Igor Danilevsky said: “The killing took place in a passion ... I confess to everything,” the state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said Danilevsky wrote “Free Pussy Riot” on a wall in the victims’ blood because he wanted to mislead investigators. He had dated the younger victim, the committee said. News reports identified him as a sociology instructor at the Architecture and Construction University in Kazan.
The arrest and sentencing of the Pussy Riot members was one of Russia’s most divisive cases of recent years, pitting adherents of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church against opposition supporters.
They were convicted of hooliganism based on religious hatred for performing a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s main cathedral entreating the Virgin Mary to save Russia from Putin.
The jailed band members’ attorney had called the killing of the two women “either a horrendous provocation or a psychopathic” case.
Kremlin-friendly media and Orthodox Church clerics had seized upon the alleged link between the murders and the band to lambast the artists and their supporters, and compared them to mass murderer Charles Manson, whose followers used the blood of victims to write on the walls of their houses.
Some Russian publications ran headlines claiming Pussy Riot supporters “committed” or “inspired” the double homicide.