The Tagansky court of Moscow on Thursday extended till June 24 the term of custody for members of the Pussy Riot punk group Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alekhina, having satisfied the investigators’ request. Law enforcement bodies failed to complete the preliminary investigation within two months stipulated by law, against the members of the group who are charged for a scandalous action in the Christ the Saviour Cathedral. The people who came to the court building to support the girls were detained by police.
Scuffles and mass detentions of almost 30 people accompanied the process for the extension of the term of custody for the members of the scandalous Pussy Riot group in the Tagansky court, writes the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily. About 300 people crowded in the court’s inner yard. Civil activists planned to stage here a so-called “judicial festival,” but those who were displaying the slightest activity, for example, held a banner, were put into patrol wagons by policemen. When the girls were coming out of the vehicle, hustle began. The crowd was chanting “Freedom!” and “Shame!” The activists were hurling colour smoke boxes, and provocateurs were praising Christ with raw eggs. However, this civil activity did not prevent the court from extending the custody term for all the three accused until June 24.
In the Pussy Riot case the state and Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) have demonstrated inability to forgive, believes Novye Izvestiya. The publication writes that the Ukrainian “colleagues” of Pussy Riot – girls from the FEMEN group, have recently staged a topless action on the bell tower of the Saint Sophia Cathedral against the prohibition of abortions. However, the local authorities only drew up a protocol of administrative offence against them, and the priests of the local church displayed more mercy than their Russian coreligionists.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes that a mass church event not timed to a major holiday will be held in downtown Moscow this Sunday. The Russian Orthodox Church plans to gather 30-40 thousand believers at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral for the prayer “in defence of the faith and desecrated shrines,” deputy head of the Moscow patriarch’s press service deacon Alexander Volkov said on Thursday.
The public activity in Russia in the sphere of religion is more and more becoming like political, believes the newspaper. The Church actively uses tools that are very similar to the recent presidential campaign. First, mass meetings “of representatives of the public” who are massively transported there in buses with more or less obvious support of the authorities. Second, public statements account the enemies against which it is necessary to come to these meetings. The Supreme Church Council in its appeal directly named among such enemies also “those who advocate the false values of aggressive liberalism.” Earlier, the fight against the “liberals” within the Church itself was launched. On the eve of the event against the “aggressive liberalism,” ROC representatives expressed sympathies towards the Soviet-model socialism.
For their part, the above liberals, who were initially rather far from this, are now more and more involved in the confrontation with the Church, in the religious sphere of public life. Boris Nemtsov and Alexei Navalny have already staged pickets in support of Pussy Riot members who are suspected of the participation in the “punk prayer” in the Christ the Saviour Cathedral. On March 31, the demands to release the detained girls were voiced at the Strategy 31 action in Ryazan with the participation of the local branch of the PARNAS party, and on April 5 – at a Yabloko party picket in Blagoveshchensk.
The “separation” of the Orthodox believers and liberals to opposite sides appears to be a mistake that can have its special implications in the future, believes Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Because there is no premeditated confrontation here, because a considerable part of the educated urban class in Russia is both liberal and has Orthodox views.