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MOSCOW, July 11 (Itar-Tass) — Police have finished investigation into an act of hooliganism staged by the Pussy Riot female punk group at the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Savior in February.
“The investigation is over. The bill of indictment has been handed over to the prosecutor’s office of the Moscow Central Administrative District,” a Moscow police source told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.
He said that the case would go to court as soon as the bill of indictment was approved.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, the participants in a scandalous punk prayer at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, are being charged with hooliganism.
Nikolai Polozov, one of the Pussy Riots lawyers, told Itar-Tass that the case would be handed over to court on July 12.
Five young girls in masks and bright clothes appeared in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior on February 21, 2012. They rose to the Ambon and then approached the Altar. With the help of sound amplifying equipment which they had brought into the church, they sang an obscene song for several minutes and insulted the clergymen and the believers. They were ignoring remarks made by the church employees and the visitors and disappeared when the guards wanted to detain them. Later on, the Pussy Riot punk group, notoriously famous for staging similar actions in other places, including on Red Square, claimed responsibility for the punk-prayer.
The case produced great public response. Swords have been crossed in the media and the Internet for more than three months over the way how to classify the act from the legal point of view: an act of hooliganism or an administrative offence. An administrative offence has light consequences while hooliganism is a crime which implies stricter punishment.
In the meantime, Patriarch Kirill has refused to comment what he thinks about Pussy Riots before a court passes its ruling. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has been receiving letters from people asking him to intervene. Some cultural figures have collected signatures in Pussy Riot’s support.
“No official statements on the behavior of the girls can be made before the court passes its ruling. The patriarch will voice his personal opinion on the incident shortly after a court decision is announced,” Deacon Alexander Volkov, the patriarch’s press secretary, said late in June.
Volkov said the Church couldn’t exert pressure on investigative bodies despite the fact that many people demand that it should be speeded up.
.Volkov added the Pussy Riot punk group had never asked the Patriarch for help, leaving it to people concerned with their fate. He said he was surprised by the fact that with thousands of people being held in custody in Russia, the Church had been asked to help those who had insulted it.
“If we were asked to give a church assessment of the events, we would call it sacrilege. But sacrilege is not part of the Penal Code and the state doesn’t punish its citizens for sacrilege,” Volkov emphasized.
“However, they will continue to be the enemies of the Church so long as they don’t repent irrespective of what a secular court rules,” Alexander Volkov explained.