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MOSCOW, August 8 (Itar-Tass) —— The Moscow Khamovniki District Court will schedule the day of sentencing Pussy Riot punk band members charged with an act of hooliganism at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow on Wednesday.
Presiding Judge Marina Syrova will listen to the last plea of the defendants and will recess for drafting the sentence.
Prosecutor Alexander Nikiforov demanded three years in a general penitentiary for the defendants. In his words, “the punk prayer” was not political, as claimed by the girls, but aimed to insult Orthodox believers. He said the action was provoking and aimed to incite religious hatred. The prosecutor asked the judge to bear in mind the social danger of the girls’ act and noted that their correction was possible only in prison.
Seven out of nine aggrieved parties agreed with the prosecutor’s demand, and two opted for a suspended sentence.
The defense demanded an acquittal on hooliganism charges and insisted on an administrative penalty. Lawyer Mark Feigin asked the court to view the action of the Pussy Riot girls exclusively as a violation of Article 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (insult of religious feelings of citizens or desecration of revered objects). “There is no such crime as blasphemy or abomination. There are no such norms in the Criminal Code,” he said. “The defense will call illegal any sentence but an acquittal,” another lawyer, Nikolai Polozov, said.
The defendants also insist on their acquittal. “We may be buffoons or fools but we do nothing evil to anyone,” defendant Nadezhda Tolokonnikova told the court. She said the prosecutor and the aggrieved parties refused to listen to their reasons and that was the biggest problem.
“If everyone here had understood what an artistic form was and what punk was, it would have been much easier for everyone, including the prosecutor,” she said.
The defendants strongly rejected the accusation of hatred for Orthodox believers and stressed that their punk prayer was political. Tolokonnikova once again apologized to everyone insulted by their song. “We did not mean to insult you,” she said.
She added that the second psychological and linguistic examination did not find elements of religious feud or hatred for Orthodox believers in their son.
The Pussy Riot members wearing masks performed their punk prayer at the Christ the Savior Cathedral on February 21. They held dubious actions before, including on Red Square and at the Biology Museum. Three band members – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich – were detained and charged with religiously or socially motivated hooliganism (Part 2, Article 213 of the Russian Criminal Code) with the maximal punishment of seven years.