- Associated Press - Friday, August 10, 2012

MOSCOW (AP) - A Russian deputy premier has made a rude statement apparently aimed at Madonna regarding her support for the jailed members of a Russian punk band awaiting a verdict in their trial.

Dmitry Rogozin didn’t name Madonna when he tweeted this week that “every former w. wants to give lectures on morality when she grows old. Especially during foreign tours.” By “w.” he apparently meant “whore.”

“Either take off your cross or put on your knickers,” Rogozin added.

His remarks have drawn sarcastic tweets from those who recalled that Rogozin was a nationalist opposition leader before joining officialdom. “Why are you calling yourself a former whore, you are still on it,” one of the tweets said.

Liz Rosenberg, Madonna’s spokeswoman, had this to say about Rogozin on Friday: “Maybe he and Elton can form a Madonna fan club.” Public comments that Elton John and Madonna have made about one another are often portrayed as a longstanding feud.

Just before Vladimir Putin returned to the Russian presidency, members of the feminist band high-kicked and danced in Moscow’s main cathedral, singing “Virgin Mary, drive Putin away!”

Three Pussy Riot members have remained behind bars for more than five months and face up to three years if convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. A judge is to deliver a verdict on Aug. 17. .

Their prosecution has drawn a storm of protests from rights groups who declared them prisoners of conscience and an outpouring of sympathy and support from musicians and activists around the world.

Madonna, who performed in Moscow and St. Petersburg as part of her world tour, expressed her support for Pussy Riot at Tuesday’s concert in Moscow, saying she’d “pray for them.” She then turned her bare back, with “Pussy Riot” written on it and donned a ski mask similar to those worn by the band.

Madonna told The Associated Press earlier during her stay in Moscow that she hopes that the judge is lenient with the band members and that they are freed soon.