Putin: "No element of Stalinism" in Russia

Moscow, Apr 25 (EFE).- President Vladimir Putin says he see "no element of Stalinism" in Russia and denies his government is holding political prisoners.

"Stalinism is linked to the cult of personality, mass violations of the law, repressions and camps," the Russian leader said Thursday in response to a question during his annual live phone-in session.

A liberal journalist posed the question after Human Rights Watch released a report asserting that Russia is experienced the biggest campaign of repression since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Another questioner raised the issue of last year's jailing of two members of the Pussy Riot group who occupied the altar of a church in Moscow to perform a song denouncing Putin.

The activists were convicted of inciting hatred for religion.

"Nobody is putting anyone behind bars for their political views," Putin said just hours after a court here sentenced opposition activist Konstantin Lebedev to 2 1/2 years in prison for disturbances associated with a massive anti-government protest in May 2012.

The president, who spent five hours responding to questions in the nationally televised event, urged Russia's extraparliamentary opposition to organize political parties and work within the system.