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Prosecutor demands 3 years in prison for Pussy Riot activists

August 07, 2012, 13:15 UTC+3

He said the guilt of defendants committing hooliganism for religious hate had been fully proven

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MOSCOW, August 7 (Itar-Tass) — Prosecutor for the state Alexander Nikiforov demanded three years in a general regime penitentiary for Pussy Riot activists who had staged the so-called punk prayer at the Christ the Savior Church in Moscow. The prosecutor said the guilt of defendants Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina's committing hooliganism for religious hate had been fully proven.

The investigators say the action was not political, as the defendants maintained, but aimed at insulting Orthodox believers, said Nikiforov, underlining that preliminary investigation bodies had correctly classified the defendants’ actions as" obvious provocation, aimed at fanning religious hate."

"They clearly showed religious hate, humiliating and insulting the believers. Their actions at the church were unambiguously perceived as inciting religious strife and hate," the prosecutor said.

He explained that blasphemy is understood as a word, action or any striving to subject the Creator to abuse, which is the gravest offense for the believers. The defendants' actions were deliberate and well-prepared, Nikiforov went on to say.

"Using a church, not mentioning ambon for a stage, lifting legs, and appearing in offending, improper clothes, dancing and singing are regarded by the prosecutor for the state as insulting the believers' feelings," he said.

Despite the church personnel's efforts to stop to the Pussy Riot participants, they continued their action. Prosecutor also cited Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's statement in the blogosphere prior to the action: "we, the feminists, will be serving the punk prayer at the altar, because women are forbidden to be there."

The prosecutors believe the defendants did not act out of ignorance; they staged the action contrary to the rules of conduct in the church.

The injured parties and their lawyers agreed with the prosecutor's demand.

"The injured parties agree with the prosecutor's position in general, as do I," lawyer Yelena Pavlova said. She said "the defendants are ready to continue to enter churches, and, maybe mosques, or synagogues," which shows that they have not repented.

It took the court six days to hear the case on the merits. The Pussy Riot participants - Tolokonnikova, Samutsevich and Alyokhina were questioned on Monday. They acknowledged particpation in the punk prayer but stated they had nothing to do with videoing or placing it on the Internet. They also claimed the action was aimed to criticize government bodies and the Church leadership, and that they had never meant to hurt the believers.

But the injured parties /mostly the Church attendants/ said the action had hurt their feelings. All the nine injured parties, however, said they would not seek a legal action against the Pussy Riot members.

On February 21, five masked young women in brightly colored clothes appeared in the Christ the Savior Church, ran onto the ambon 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.

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