MOSCOW, July 31 (Itar-Tass) — Moscow's Khamovniki court will continue on Tuesday to question injured parties in the criminal case against three activists of the Pussy Riot punk group, accused of hooliganism at the Christ the Savior Church.
On Monday, the hearing continued for more than nine hours. Judge Marina Syrov announced pause until 10:00, Moscow time, July 31.
During the Monday session, the court questioned three injured parties - church worker Lyubov Sokologorskaya, who takes care of candleholders, icons and relics, parishioner Denis Istomin and altar server Vasily Tsiganyuk.
Sokologorskaya called the defendants' actions in the Church "devilish jerking" and expressed bewilderment over how this sacrilege can be a small offense punished under the Administrative Code.
"An adequate punishment must be meted out to them, so that they never do it again and fear it," she told the court.
The other two injured parties called punk group activists' actions criminal.
Meanwhile, defendants Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich refused to plead guilty of hooliganism.
Tolokonnikova stated they had not been motivated by hate. "I don't have disgust for anyone; and it is cruel on the part of the investigators, at the very least, to accuse us of it. We acted for political motives, not for religious hate," she said.
The defendants agreed that they had violated the Church rules. "It's an administrative offense, and I don't understand why I'm in the prisoner's dock," she went on to say.
She apologized to the believers stating that the group's activists had had no intention to hurt them.
The defendants emphasized that their actions at the Christ the Savior Church were politically motivated. "It was our ethical error," Tolokonnikova said.
But the prosecutor's indictment stated that the defendants had unambiguously expressed their religious hate and strife against Christianity.
On February 21, five masked young women in brightly colored clothes appeared in the Christ the Savior Church, ran onto the ambo before the altar and performed an indecent song for several minutes using the amplifiers they had brought along. They also shouted insults against the clergy and believers, as well as against the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill.
They ignored the rebukes by the church attendants and believers, and fled as guards tried to detain them.
Police opened a criminal case under Article 21, Part 2 of Russia's Criminal Code /hooliganism/ which envisions a penalty of up to seven years.
Pussy Riot later claimed responsibility for the action. The group is notorious for similar actions such as the one in Red Square. The punk group placed on Live Journal a video report of the church prank.