Killer demands Pussy Riot are freed

The bodies of two murdered women were found beneath a scrawled message demanding freedom for jailed members of Pussy Riot, Russian officials have said.

An investigator cautioned that the killer was possibly trying to mislead police by drawing attention to supporters of the punk provocateurs.

The Investigative Committee said in a statement that the women, aged 76 and 38, were killed late last week in their apartment in the central city of Kazan with the words "Free Pussy Riot" written on the wall, "presumably" with blood. The substance has not yet been confirmed, it said.

It did not provide the women's names and did not reveal details about their occupations or whether they had any connection to the band. Russian tabloid Lifenews quoted an unnamed investigator as saying that the bodies were disfigured by multiple stab wounds.

The jailed band members' attorney said on Twitter that "what happened in Kazan is horrible," calling the case "either a horrendous provocation or a psychopathic" case.

"I am sorry that some freaks are using Pussy Riot's band name," Nikolai Polozov was further quoted by Interfax as saying.

In mid-August, a Moscow court sentenced three band members to two years in jail for performing a "punk prayer" against President Vladimir Putin at a Moscow cathedral in February.

The case has polarised Russians. Kremlin-friendly television networks and media covered the "prayer" in mostly negative terms, and the country's dominant Orthodox Church called their stunt sacrilegious. But, hundreds of artists, musicians and other intellectuals have signed petitions urging authorities to free the band members.

An investigator in Kazan told a Russian news agency that the murderer was trying to cover up the crime by attributing the murder to the band's supporters.

The criminal "was trying to avoid suspicion" by misleading police, Andrey Sheptitsky told RBK Daily.