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MOSCOW, September 25 (Itar-Tass) — The nomination by the European Parliament of the Pussy Riot punk group for the prize “For freedom of thought”, named after Soviet human rights activist Andrei Sakharov is viewed in Russia as a provocation and an insult to the memory of the great man.
Thus, Sergei Zheleznyak, the deputy speaker of the State Duma for the United Russia Party, recalled that at the meeting of the working group of the Russia-EU parliamentary cooperation committee in August 2012, member of the European Parliament from Germany Werner Schultz, one of those who made the initiative for the punk group’s nomination, acknowledged that the jailed members of the group had staged an outrageous act that would not go unpunished in European countries either.
Now Schultz displays “amazing bias and lack of objectivity,” Zheleznyak noted. “Deliberately presenting a juridical matter as a political one, the Euro-deputy, apparently, prefers to overlook the grave social consequences such political games with feelings of believers may have,” Zheleznyak stressed.
He also pointed out that “Russian people held Andrei Sakharov in esteem for moral principles and purity of intentions.” “Presenting the prize of his name to those who cynically insulted the feelings of believers and behaved outrageously in a church will be an insult to the memory of the great man in the eyes of many Russian citizens and people in other countries, which clearly contradicts the aims of the prize,” the deputy speaker of the State Duma holds.
Sergei Ryakhovsky, member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, pointed to a defiant attitude of a number of Russian and foreign public figures siding with the group that held the so-called ”punk prayer” in a cathedral. “Is it that they fail to see that there are people who have been busy with problems of a rule-of-law state over many years,” he asked. “These people avoid ostentation. They don’t dance in churches but quietly do their work,” he said. Ryakhovsky believes that the nomination of Pussy Riot for the prize was “a provocation combined with stupidity”.
He stressed that Sakharov was “a great man, the epitome of freedom and human rights protection,” also protection of believers’ rights. “What we witness now means devaluation of the prize,” he holds. He recalled that, for instance, Nelson Mandela, “the ambassador of peace”, had received the prize. The prize, though, went last year to activists of the Arab Spring, “people who set countries on fire, who provoked events that caused bloodshed.” He believes that should Pussy Riot receive the prize this year, the prize will be downgraded and Euro-deputy Schultz will become a person not to shake hands with.
Earlier in the day, Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights, democracy and supremacy of law, said that Moscow regards the initiative by a group of Euro-deputies to nominate Pussy Riot for the Sakharov Prize an attempt to interfere in the operation of the Russian court.
Dolgov pointed out that the Russian court had found the participants in the action guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hate and enmity. “Besides, the character, aims and forms of their activity have nothing to do with freedom of thought, which they acknowledged at the hearing themselves,” he stressed.
"The above-mentioned initiative by a group of Euro-deputies can be regarded as none other than a gross attempt to interfere in the activity of the independent branch of Russian authorities and the striving to call in question the decision by the court that passed its verdict in accordance with the procedure established by law," the Foreign Ministry‘s commissioner said.
Moscow proceeds from the view that “decisions of independent judicial bodies, including Russian, must be respected.” “We do hope that respect will be shown to the memory of Andrei Sakharov and to millions of Orthodox believers whose rights were infringed and feelings injured by the punk group’s unlawful actions,” Dolgov said. “We count on wisdom of our European partners,” he said.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named after Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, was established in December 1988 by the European Parliament as a means to honor persons and organizations that have made a special contribution to the protection of human rights and freedom of thought.