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Religion News Current News Items
Church protestors to appear in court
NUMBER OF "PUSSY RIOT" SUPPORTERS ARRESTED FOR UNSANCTIONED ACTION
GROWS TO 20
19 April 2012
Police continue to arrest supporters of the feminist group "Pussy
Riot," who are conducting an unsanctioned street action at the building
of the Taganka court where the case concerning the actions of the
members of the punk group in the church of Christ the Savior will be
heard. About 20 persons already have been arrested, an Interfax
As was reported, originally the police arrested five participants in
the demonstration, two of whom were released after a warning
conversation and three were considered "worst offenders" and it was
decided to take them to the regional police department for drawing up
administrative protocols. The number of participants in the "Festival,"
as the picketers themselves call it, is growing.
Meanwhile, the three alleged members of the "Pussy Riot" group, accused
of hooliganism in the church of Christ the Savior, were taken to the
Taganka court. Supporters met their arrival and exit from the vehicles
with shouts of "Freedom!"
More than 100 persons gathered on the square by the courthouse, half of
whom were journalists, some were supporters of the feminists, and there
also were supporters of Christian movements that condemn the girls'
As the Interfax correspondent reports, police officers are arresting
activists at the entrance to the courthouse and are leading them to a
police vehicle. In particular, a young man was arrested in front of the
court, who threw a smoke bomb into a group of journalists and
On the square in front of the court girls also were arrested who wrote
with chalk on the asphalt, "Freedom for Pussy Riot" and drew a mask, in
which the activists performed in the church of Christ the Savior. (tr.
by PDS, posted 19 April 2012)
PERIOD OF INVESTIGATION IN CASE OF THREE ALLEGED "PUSSY RIOT" ACTIVISTS
EXTENDED TO 24 JUNE
19 April 2012
The period of investigation in the case regarding three alleged
activists of the "Pussy Riot" group, accused of hooliganism in the
church of Christ the Savior has been extended. This was reported on 18
April to ITAR-TASS by the press service of the capital police.
The police department noted that since the time of pre-trial detention
of the suspects as a preventive measure, a series of investigative
measures has been conducted, including eight identifications by
eyewitnesses who observed the girls' illegal action in the church of
Christ the Savior. The alleged members of the "Pussy Riot" group
themselves, Maria Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Ekaterina
Samutsevich, accused of hooliganism, have refused to give evidence,
citing article 51 of the Russian constitution.
"Given the refusal of the accused to give evidence, the investigating
authorities, in accordance with existing legislation, have been
severely limited in conducting investigative activity with their
participation. It is necessary to have a written declaration of the
accused about a willingness to give evidence to the investigation,
without which it is difficult to conduct interrogations," the police
said, adding that "at the present time the preliminary investigation is
continuing and various forensic expert analyses have been ordered for
"On Tuesday, 17 April, the period of preliminary investigation was
extended to 24 June of this year, and on 19 April the investigator will
submit a petition in the Taganka district court for extending the
periods of detention of the accused," the press service emphasized.
On 21 February five girls in masks and brightly colored clothing
appeared in the church of Christ the Savior, ran to the platform and
pulpit, and with the aid of amplification equipment they had brought
they performed for several minutes a "punk prayer service," "Mother of
God, drive Putin away." They did not respond to comments from ministers
and visitors in the church, and when security personnel employed by the
church tried to detain them, they fled.
Later, the "Pussy Riot" punk group took responsibility for what
happened, who earlier attained notoriety in connection with similar
actions, including on Lobnoe Mesto on Red Square. A photo and video
account of the action was published on the webpage of the punk group in
"Living Journal." (tr. by PDS, posted 19 April 2012)
DETENTION OF "PUSSY RIOT" MEMBER TOLOKONNIKOVA EXTENDED TO END OF JUNE
Judge called punk group action "well planned crime"
19 April 2012
The Taganka court of Moscow on Thursday extended the detention of one
member of the "Pussy Riot" punk group, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, until 24
June, within the framework of the case of the controversial action in
the church of Christ the Savior. As an Interfax correspondent reports,
the corresponding petition of the investigation was granted.
The court agreed with the conclusions of the investigation and pointed
out that the basis for detention of N. Tolokonnikova had not
disappeared. The judge thinks that the person in the case, if at large,
might hide and affect the course of the investigation in some other way.
A medical report regarding ill health was not submitted and therefore
the court cannot consider such grounds for release, the ruling says.
The court considered the presence of the accused's small child, but
called it insufficient for changing the preventive measure. "The court
found no signs of red tape in the investigation of the case. There is
sufficient basis for extending the period of the investigation," Judge
Elena Ivanova said, noting in the ruling that N. Tolokonnikova
committed "a well planned crime."
At the same time, E. Ivanova specified that the court at this stage
cannot discuss the accuracy of the description of Tolokonnikova's
actions and the existence of grounds for holding her to account.
The defense will appeal the rendered decision in appeals court and if
it does not succeed in gaining the release of the girl even there, it
will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
Law enforcement agencies, on their part, intend to ask for leaving the
other two persons in the case, Maria Alekhina and Ekaterina
Samutsevich, in custody. (tr. by PDS, posted 19 April 2012)
DETENTION OF ANOTHER MEMBER OF "PUSSY RIOT" PUNK GROUP EXTENDED
19 April 2012
The Taganka court of Moscow extended until 24 June the detention of a
second member of the "Pussy Riot" punk group, Maria Alekhina, within
the framework of the case of the controversial action in the church of
Christ the Savior. In this way the corresponding petition of the
investigation was granted.
Earlier the court left in custody until the same date another member of
the group, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova. Soon the court will consider the
petition for extending the detention of a third detainee, Ekaterina
The defense intends to appeal the rendered decisions all the way to the
European Court of Human Rights.
The investigator repeated word for word the basis for extending the
detention of M. Alekhina which he had already introduced as arguments
in favor of maintaining the measures of preventive detention for N.
Tolokonnikova: she is accused of a serious crime and she may flee,
influence the investigator, continue criminal activity, and become the
object of illegal infringements. The prosecutor agreed with the
requests of the investigation.
Meanwhile M. Alekhina requested that she be released. "No investigative
activities are being conducted with me; why am I being kept in
custody?" she said in court. (tr. by PDS, posted 19 April 2012)
DETENTION OF THIRD FIGURE IN CASE OF ACTION IN CHURCH ALSO EXTENDED
19 April 2012
The Taganka court of Moscow left in detention until 24 June all three
members of the "Pussy Riot" punk group who are accused within the
framework of the case of the controversial action in the church of
Christ the Savior.
As an Interfax correspondent reports, the court made the decision about
extending the period of detention of Ekaterina Samutsevich. Earlier it
had extended the detention of Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.
The defense of all girls will appeal the decision in Moscow city court.
"I am not a danger to society. I do not intend to commit illegal
actions or to hide from the investigation," E. Samutsevich said.
Nevertheless the court agreed with the conclusions of the investigation
and extended the period of the accused's detention. (tr. by PDS, posted
19 April 2012)
ARRESTED "PUSSY RIOT" MEMBER APOLOGIZES FOR ACT BUT REMAINS SURE OF HER
19 April 2012
This Thursday, two months after the controversial action of "Pussy
Riot," for the first time on the part of one of its members, Maria
Alekhina, an apology was voiced for what was done, although to be sure,
with a qualification.
To calls from various representatives of the church community for an
apology, M. Alekhina quoted Osip Mandelshtam: "Okay, I apologize,
although within I am not changed in any way."
Today the Taganka court of Moscow extended the arrested girls' period
of detention until 24 June.
Members of the punk group fear that the fact the girls have young
children is being used to put pressure on them.
"The investigator started to talk about care agencies. I do not want to
think about that. It is the most horrible thing if this affects my
child," M. Alekhina said.
Two of the three detained girls have young children. "We are accused of
cynicism. If cynicism is a crime, let's jail all cynics and thus our
prisons will be overflowing," M. Alekhina declared. (tr. by PDS,
posted 19 April 2012)
Religion News Current News Items
Patriarch continues offensive
INTERCESSION WITH CIVIL SOCIETY
Church prepares for battle with "hostile forces"
by Andrei Melnikov
NG-Religiia, 18 April
During the days of Easter Patriarch Kirill several times issued
appeals, both to believers and ministers of the church and to a wider
audience, employing the possibilities of state television. In this
event itself there is nothing out of the ordinary. It is something else
that the current statements were made in special circumstances. In the
country the political situation has worsened and the civic passions did
not spare the church. Not only in the pre-holiday appeal to television
viewers on Saturday evening and an interview Sunday afternoon on
"Rossia-1" television channel, but also in sermons at services in the
church of Christ the Savior the heat of passions was reflected.
On the eve of the holiday Patriarch Kirill urged television viewers and
believers, preparing for worship service, "coming to God's temple," to
leave behind "everything that has disturbed us so much recently." "Let
us leave the experiences, tragic ones and sometime even tragicomic,
leave anger and hatred, the feeling of enmity, everything that rends
our soul, and let us strive to be reconciled with those near and far
and to overcome in ourselves those conflicts that have so stirred up
our mind and clouded our life," the head of the Russian Orthodox Church
However everyone who went to church or sat in front of the television
screen understood that after Easter the church would still have all its
problems and conflicts that flared up during Lent. Three young women,
who are suspected of hooliganism in the church of Christ the Savior,
continue to be in preliminary confinement, and the investigation is
petitioning for extending the term of their detention. What is more, on
5 April the Investigative Committee of the republic of Karelia opened a
case on part 1 of article 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian
federation (inciting hatred or enmity with demeaning of human dignity
on the basis of religion) against the chairman of the local Young
Rights Defense Group, Maksim Efimov. This was reported on the Karelian
Investigative Committee website on 11 April, the same day that a search
was conducted in Efimov's apartment. On the last day of 2011 the rights
advocate posed on the website of the organization a short text titled
"Kareliia is tired of priests." In rather crude expressions he
characterized the public activity of RPTs, calling it "a party of
power," and believers, "an Orthodox brood."
Of course, the cases of Pussy Riot and Efimov were initiated by law
enforcement agencies. But it is the detractors of the church who lay
upon it the moral responsibility and they play on the calls for general
forgiveness which place Christian clergy in an ambiguous situation.
The moral collision during the holidays became yet sharper after the
position of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the authorities of
Georgia was expressed—for a variety of reasons. On 10 April members of
the infamous group FEMEN climbed the bell tower of Holy Wisdom
cathedral in Kiev, undressed, rang the bell, and hung out a huge banner
with an anti-church slogan. However the Ukrainian feminists were not
arrested; in addition the head of the Information and Education
Department of UPTs of the Moscow patriarchate, Archpriest Georgy
Kovalenko, promised: "We will not react in a worldly way, not in
the media, not politically; we will react in a churchly manner." " And
since such events are occurring during Passion Week, Orthodox
Christians should follow the example that Christ himself showed us in
his attitude toward the mocking, spitting, and ridicule," the
representative of the Ukrainian church explained. Georgian President
Mikhail Saakashvili spoke in the same spirit, after pardoning on the
occasion of Easter 200 prisoners, including women.
Even in the Russian church itself disagreements were noted. Previously
Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin called this phenomenon "neo-renovationism."
In some ultraconservative Orthodox publications the position was even
more aggravated, calling the traditionalist majority of the Moscow
patriarchate to oppose church liberals who urge believers to forgive
the members of Pussy Riot. In his turn, Chaplin's statements on various
topics issued a rather frank rebuke to the famous evangelist of RPTs,
Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev, and the rector of the St. Tatiana church at
MGO, Archpriest Maksim Kozlov.
During the solemn paschal worship service in the night of 14-15 April,
the patriarch addressed the clergy and believers with the words:
"Although now we are in conditions of social and religious freedom, the
attempt to live in accordance with Christian moral norms means, as
before, moving against the tide. It exposes the disagreement with those
stereotypes of conduct and positions of justifying sin which
insistently and systematically are incorporated into the lives of
people through modern means of influencing the mind." These words
repeat previous calls by the head of RPTs to fellow believers not to
pay attention and not to believe revelations which have appeared in
news media recently. A great portion of these revelations pertained to
the patriarch personally.
A larger audience was counted for the interview of the head of RPTs on
"Rossiia 1" TV channel. There the patriarch talked about events like
the civil action that the church has planned for 22 April. To be sure,
the patriarch himself denied a political subtext for these actions,
calling them a prayer vigil and procession of the cross at cathedral
churches in various cities of Russia. He said the church "only comes
into contact with the world of politics, economics, social life, and
the news media. Least of all is it necessary to say that the church is
interlocked or that it joins in what is not its business; that its
business is merely to swing a censer in the cemetery." To be sure, in
labeling his critics he points to their worldview, but at the same time
the political affiliation of the church's detractors is, of course, the
Later, during paschal vespers, the patriarch delivered a sermon in
which he said that the Great Fast was accompanied by passions for the
church, meaning all the same criticism.
As we see, in all the speeches, both in church and on television, the
head of RPTs has consistently returned to the theme of the anticlerical
information campaign, predicting that after Ester the church will take
revenge, and connecting Easter itself with the concept of victory over
"the sin of liberalism." His speeches resound with such expression as
"spiritual warfare," and "hostile forces from outside." According to
the patriarch's Sunday sermon, the attack on the church has armed it
"with spiritual power." The patriarch called on the experience of
events that have happened recently to learn that " "God's power is
stronger than the devil's powers; that God's power preserves the
miracle of faith despite all the vicissitudes of history over 2,000
years, and will not leave us even in the current difficult conditions
The church should manifest "God's power" on 22 April. This day will
demonstrate what the mobilizing capacities of the administrative core
of the Moscow patriarchate are like. RPTs expects to prove to society
that its authority is high despite the cooperation with the political
authorities and that it has not lost that trust that it had at the
beginning of the 1990s. In turn, if the nonpolitical prayer service
against "hostile powers" turns out to be massive, this will prove to
the government that the church has not exhausted its potential and that
it still can converse on an equal footing with the powers of this
world. (tr. by PDS, posted 18 April 2012)
Religion News Current News Items
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