Singer Mathieu's Pussy Riot Comments Not Censored, TV Center Says

State-run broadcaster TV Center tried to nip in the bud accusations of censorship after it edited out a section of an interview with French singer Mireille Mathieu in which she asks for clemency for the jailed Pussy Riot rockers.

The channel, which is controlled by City Hall, apologized to Mathieu on Friday for cutting part of the interview, but rejected censorship allegations by arguing that Mathieu's interviewer had decided the comments were not essential.

"The reporter shortened the singer's answer on her own initiative, … assuming that this would not alter the essence of her comments," the channel said in a statement on its website Friday.

In the interview, which aired on the channel's morning show on Aug. 30, reporter Alexandra Glotova asks Mathieu to comment on the Pussy Riot case "as a religious person." The singer responds by saying the young women's performance in Christ the Savior Cathedral was "thoughtless" and a "sacrilege" because a church is "not a place to protest."

In the version that aired, which is still available on the show's website, Glotova goes on to ask Mathieu about her difficult childhood.

But the edited version omits a section of tape in which the singer adds that "as a woman, an artist and a Christian, I ask for leniency for these three girls," French media reports said.

The channel's management admitted the omission Friday.

"We are shocked and apologize for what has happened," TV Center's first deputy director Vyacheslav Mostovoi told Interfax.

But he put the entire blame on Glotova for submitting an "incorrect" version and said the reporter would be suspended from working on air.

"She has been penalized and reprimanded," Mostovoi told the news agency.

Mathieu had been in Moscow to perform at the Spassky Tower Military Music Festival. She has visited the city frequently in the past, most notably in 2008, when then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi attended a public concert she gave at the Kremlin.

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