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In the Khamovniki District Court, where the criminal case is being tried against the Pussy Riot members, who staged the punk player at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, the prosecutor demanded Tuesday to sentence the young women to three years in a general security penitentiary. The lawyers of the defendants insist on a suspended sentence. Meanwhile, the Pussy Riot criminal case threatens to worsen the Russian image abroad.
According to prosecutor Alexander Nikiforov, the guilt of the defendants for hooliganism out of religious hatred was fully proved, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily reported. He noted the protest action was not political, as the defendants claimed about it, but was targeted to insult the Orthodox believers. “Their actions in the church were definitely taken as the instigation of religious strife and hatred,” the prosecutor noted. The prosecutor also believes that the actions of the defendants were prepared beforehand. They had some kind of rehearsal of the protest action at the Epiphany Cathedral before their escapade at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral.
Sharply growing criticism from the United States and the European Union over the trial in the Pussy Riot criminal case threatens to become one of the main irritating factors between Russia and the West, the Kommersant daily reported. According to the experts, the trial, regardless its outcome, may bring to naught the Kremlin attempts to improve the Russian image abroad, which had deteriorated for the last year all the same, but this will hardly affect political and economic relations with the West.
According to the authoritative research company Pew Research Center, dramatic changes took place in the world in 2012 according to the Russian position. The Russian image has worsened almost in all Western countries. The attitude to Russia in the United States worsened by 12% (in 2011 49% of US citizens had a positive attitude to Russia, only 37% in 2012), ten percent down in Spain (down to 36%), Great Britain – 12% down (down to 38%), Germany – 14% down (down to 33%) and France – 17% down (down to 36%). The current figures are the lowest for the last four years, the newspaper noted.
The wave of criticism against the Russian authorities was raised by human rights activists. Amnesty International found the members of the punk band Pussy Riot as prisoners of conscience. Then famous Western musicians from Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Pet Shop Boys to Sting and Madonna joined the criticising campaign. The trial has been covered by leading Western media already for several weeks. Finally, politicians from the US and the EU states joined the criticising campaign. Deputy of the European Parliament from the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats Kristiina Ojuland told the Kommersant daily that her colleagues are making up a major review of the situation in Russia, a greater part of which will be devoted to the state of democracy and human rights in the country.
“Along with the trial against Navalny and the participants in the May 6 protests on the Bolotnaya Square the Pussy Riot criminal case has a very negative and catastrophic affect on Russian image in the West,” German expert for Russia from the Berlin Foundation Science and Politics Hans-Henning Schroeder told the newspaper. “This is some kind of a test for the Russian authorities. If the young women are sentenced to a real term in prison, even a short one, for many in the West this will confirm that Russia is sliding down to dictatorship,” he underlined.