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Russian Orthodox Church Seeks Clemency for Pussy Riot Punk Band

August 19, 2012|1:09 pm

Leaders of Russia's Orthodox Church asked for clemency for three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot who were sentenced to two years in jail a day earlier for holding an anti-government protest in a Moscow cathedral.

The church's call for mercy is unlikely to change Friday's court verdict that caused protests in several cities, including Oslo, Berlin, London and New York City, against repression in President Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Tikhon Shevkunov, Putin's de facto spiritual mentor and head of Moscow's Sretensky Monastery, announced on state television Saturday that his church forgave the band members after their "punk prayer" in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow in February.

"We did forgive them from the very start," The Associated Press quoted him as saying. "But such actions should be cut short by society and authorities."

Archpriest Maxim Kozlov also appeared on state television, saying the church hopes the women and their supporters would change their ways. "We are simply praying and hoping that these young women and all these people shouting in front of the court building, committing sacrilegious acts not only in Russia but in other countries, realize that their acts are awful," he said. "And despite this the church is asking for mercy within the limits of law."

Before the Moscow court was to deliver its verdict on Friday, a 22-year-old topless women's rights activist brought down a cross bearing the figure of Christ in Ukraine's capital Kiev, Reuters reported.

Inna Shevchenko, a member of the Ukrainian group Femen that is known for staging bare-breasted shock performances, vandalized the four-meter high wooden cross using a chain saw with the help of two other activists.

The cross was erected in 2005 on a hilltop looking down on the city center. It also served as a memorial to the victims of Stalinist repression and the famine of the 1930s. "No business, not even one as successful as the church, has the right to attack women's rights," Shevchenko was quoted as saying after vandalism.

The woman now faces the criminal charge of hooliganism.

The Pussy Riot members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Marina Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, "committed an act of hooliganism, a gross violation of public order showing obvious disrespect for society," the judge, Marina Syrova, was quoted as saying in the courtroom on Friday.

"The girls' actions were sacrilegious, blasphemous and broke the church's rules," she said, declaring the three guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. They had deliberately offended Russian Orthodox believers by storming the altar of Moscow's main cathedral to belt out a song deriding Putin, she added.

The governments of the United States, Britain, France and Germany have denounced the sentences as disproportionate.

Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/russian-orthodox-church-seeks-clemency-for-pussy-riot-punk-band-80228/