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Religion News Current News Items
Lawyers debate "Pussy Riot" outcome
FAMOUS JURISTS ASSESS VERDICT IN "PUSSY RIOT" CASE.
Assessments are rather contradictory
RBK, 17 August 20112
The commissioner of the government at the Constitutional Court, Mikhail
Barshevskii, compared the verdict in the "Pussy Riot" case with an
inquisition. In the lawyer's opinion, the court issued a verdict
regarding the feminists being guided by the rules of the medieval
judicial system, RSN reports.
"In law there is the concept of objective imputation, when
responsibility is attached not to the intention of the action committed
but to the consequences that accrue. The concept of objective
imputation was characteristic of the period of the inquisition in
medieval Europe. Now the world's concept of responsibility is for
guilt," the attorney noted. In M. Barshevskii's opinion, the feminists
should have been punished on the basis of an administrative article.
In his turn, attorney Genri Reznik, in an interview with RBK, called
the verdict in the case "a disgrace and a discrediting of Russian
justice." "This is madness and a disgrace. Innocent people were
intentionally convicted," the lawyer concluded. He called attention to
the fact that the girls' actions did not constitute criminally
punishable activity and their case should have been categorized as an
administrative violation of law.
At the same time, attorney Igor Trunov points out that the verdict on
the punk group members was, from a judicial point of view, formally
correct. In an interview with RBK, he pointed out that in judicial
practice, a term of 2 to 3 years incarceration for hooliganism is
However, the attorney suggests that the punishment for hooliganism that
is provided by the current Criminal Code of the Russian federation
should be lessened, since current practice "is an echo of the soviet
past." According to I. Trunov, the court also did not take into account
the political aspect of this case, and from this point of view the
court should have issued a separate ruling against the head of the
Russian Orthodox Church, since it was his statement about the support
by RPTs of the candidacy of Vladimir Putin in the election of the
Russian president that provoked "Pussy Riot" to perform the "punk
In I. Trunov's opinion, the patriarch should not have made such a
statement, since, according to the constitution of RF, Russia is a
secular state. Interference of the church in the political sphere, in
the attorney's opinion, suggested to "Pussy Riot" the idea that they
could oppose supporters of V. Putin on the territory of the church
At the same time, a lawyer for the victims, Larisa Pavlova, in an
interview with RSN, called the verdict of Khamovniki court Judge Marina
Syrova "very competent." "The verdict is very voluminous. All the
evidence that was examined in the trial was taken into account. The
position of the defense was evaluated. The term—two years
incarceration—is less that the prosecution requested. But the court
explained in detail why a lesser term was given," the advocate pointed
The controversial demonstration by the feminists occurred on 21
February 2012. Activists of the "Pussy Riot" group conducted a "punk
prayer service" in the church of Christ the Savior. They performed a
song "Mother of God, Drive Putin away," which contained vulgar
expressions and criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin and
Patriarch Kirill. A criminal case on the basis of part 2, article 213
of the Criminal Code (hooliganism) was opened for the incident of the
"punk prayer service." Today the defendants were sentenced to two years
in a penal colony of general regime. The girls will be able to go free
in March 2014. The defense of the convicts intends to appeal the
sentence. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 August 2012)
Russian original posted on Portal-credo.ru
site, 22 August 2012
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"Pussy Riot" loses one appeal
MOSCOW CITY COURT CONFIRMS LEGALITY OF EXTENSION OF CUSTODY OF "PUSSY
22 August 2012
The Moscow City Court ruled that the extension of the detention of
three members of the "Pussy Riot" punk group until 12 January is legal.
As an Interfax correspondent reported, the judicial college thereby
rejected the appeal of the girls' defense attorneys.
At preliminary hearings on the "Pussy Riot" case, which were held on 20
July, the Khamovniki district court of the capital granted the petition
of the investigation and extended the detention of Nadezhda
Tolokonnikova, Maria Alikina, and Ekaterina Samutsevich until 12
Several days later, the defense of the group members appealed this
decision in a higher instance, the Moscow City Court. During the course
of the trial of the girls it was learned that the consideration of the
appeal that was submitted was scheduled for 20 August. However, the
verdict in the case was issued three days before the session of the
judicial college of the Moscow City Court. (tr. by PDS, posted 22
Religion News Current News Items
Innocuous demonstrators hit with steep fines
TWO ACTIVISTS ARRESTED AFTER DEMONSTRATION IN SUPPORT OF "PUSSY RIOT"
FINED 10,000 RUBLES
21 August 2012
A municipal court of Samara sentenced Igor Titarenko and Stanislav
Zhuravliev to fines of 10,000 rubles on Tuesday for participating on 17
August in a march with balloons in support of "Pussy Riot."
As I. Titarenko, who was fined, told Interfax, outher who were arrested
during the demonstration in support of the group expect a similar fate.
Last Friday, around 50 persons walked along the Leningrad pedestrian
street in Samara, with variegated balloons. At the end of the street
the activists released the balloons to symbolize the release of the
members of the "punk prayer service." After the demonstration, nine
persons were arrested. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 August 2012)
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"Pussy Riot" affair alienates educated persons
RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH STILL INVOLVED IN CONFLICT
Church had to answer letter of unemployed cleric regarding "Pussy Riot"
by Olga Shulga
Nezavisimaia gazeta, 21
Yesterday an open letter to Patriarch Kirill from a deacon of RPTs,
Sergei Baranov, appeared. In it the unemployed cleric of the Tambov
diocese called the sentence of the "Pussy Riot" members "unjust" and
charged that the Moscow patriarchate "was in essence the initiator of
opening the criminal case." Representatives of the patriarchate denied
the deacon's charge, although experts think that the image of the
church was greatly damaged by this whole story.
In the appeal to the head of RPTs, posted on Facebook, Deacon Baranov
calls the trial of the punk group members "the disgraceful events of
recent months." In his opinion, the verdict was issued "at the direct
instigation of the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church and people
who unreasonably call themselves 'Orthodox citizens.'" Father Sergei
said that the "Pussy Riot" case had further strengthened Russia's
isolation from the rest of the world, "which not only thinks our
country to be aggressive and unfree, but also appears to be a country
of judicial and religious obscurantism."
"We have become eyewitnesses of how in the 21st century in a secular
and supposedly legal and democratic country there actually occurred a
trial of a church inquisition, where the rationale part of the verdict
was based on the local council of Laodicea of the fourth century, the
bishops' council of RPTs of 2011, a letter by a sacristan of the
cathedral church of Christ the Savior, Archpriest Mikhail Riazantseva,
and a memo on behavior in a church building, that is, on purely
intrachurch documents and a priest's letter, ironically issued as the
decision in the name of the Russian federation," the Tambov cleric
writes in the open letter to the patriarch.
As a sign of protest the deacon requested that he be dismissed from his
Reaction by RPTs to these words came quickly. The deputy head of the
chancellery of the Moscow patriarchate, Archimandrite Savva, called the
words of the Tambov cleric "nonsense" and he explained: "There was no
intrachurch trial which would have assessed this action."
Meanwhile the attorney for Ekaterina Samutsevich, Violetta Volkova, in
conversation with "NG" noted: "There certainly was pressure from
RPTs during the events. Remember how many tough statements were made by
representatives of the patriarchate at the beginning of the
investigation. And appeals for mercy were heard only after the issuing
of the verdict."
The trial delivered a severe blow to the image of the church, experts
emphasize. The deputy to the general director of the Center of
Political Technologies, Aleksei Makarkin, explained to "NG": "In and of
itself this letter is not proof. Such letters are written by loners who
have had their own problems and have nothing to lose. Usually clergy do
not behave in this way." However, according to the expert, something
else is important: "Even before the trial Patriarch Kirill said several
times that the church needs to grow the circle of parishioners with the
educated portion of society. And the clergy has tried to establish a
dialogue with intellectuals, writers, artists, etc. Now, after this
trial, when individual believers have proposed punishing the girls
according to laws of the time of Ivan the Terrible, this segment of
society has turned away from the church. And it is left with its former
contingent—old women and poorly educated people."
In the blogosphere the author of the controversial letter has already
been accused of plagiarism. In his Live Journal publicist Igor Petrov
noted: "In the now famous letter 'of the unemployed cleric of Tambov
diocese, Deacon Sergei Baranov' to Patriarch Kirill, whole paragraphs
are copied from a column of an 'Echo of Moscow' commentator, Anton
Orekha, of 17 August." "A stroller, wingover" and "sergeyhudiev"
revealed that other fragments of the text are lifted from a post by
Svetlana Goriacheva of 17 August and a program of Nikolai Svanidze of
17 August. (tr. by PDS, posted 21 August 2012)
Religion News Current News Items
Most Russians oppose "Pussy Riot"
"PUNK PRAYER SERVICE" NOT WORTH THE CANDLE
Support for "Pussy Riot" lowers ratings of the opposition
by Savelii Bezhin
gazeta, 21 August 2012
Last Friday the Khamovniki court of Moscow sentenced members of the
"Pussy Riot" punk group who staged a shocking action in the church of
Christ the Savior to two years incarceration in a penal colony of
general regime. Not only the sentence but the whole trial of the group
turned out to be noisy. Some politicians took advantage of the furor by
speaking out in support of the punk group. However, in the opinion of
experts, it is unlikely that they will manage to gain political capital
in this situation.
"Pussy Riot" members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina, and
Ekaterina Samutsevich were convicted of hooliganism on part 2 of
article 213 of the Criminal Code of RF. "Members of the 'Pussy Riot'
group without considering the consequences entered into a criminal
conspiracy with the goal of committing a crude violation of public
order, expressing clear disrespect for society," the sentence, which
was published on 17 August, says.
The court sentenced Tolokonnikova, Alekhina, and Samutsevich to two
Judging by the results of public opinion surveys, the court's decision
coincides with the position of a majority of Russian citizens.
According to Levada Center data, a substantial portion of respondents
think that the trial of "Pussy Riot" punk group members proceeded
"justly, objectively, and impartially." Forty-four percent of those
questions expressed themselves in favor of this point of view. And only
18% stated that the sentence was carried out "on orders from above."
Political scientist Pavel Danilin explains the agreement of public
opinion with the court's decision by the fact that "the conservative
majority is discontented with the imposition of ideas offensive to
The attitude of the public toward the "Pussy Riot" project was
manifested fully when fans of the group, as a sign of support, last
Friday placed variegated balaclavas on several Moscow monuments.
Passersby considered this action desecration of the memory of the Great
Patriotic War and they detained one of the activists and turned him
over to the police.
Representatives of the expert community concur in the opinion that the
sentence issued by the Khamovniki court seemed rather mild. Thus, for
example, the head of the "For Morality" coalition, Ivan Diachenko,
thinks: "More time was necessary in order for the convicts to realize
their mistake and repent."
"More could have been given, but the main thing is that their deed by
recognized as a crime. If they had been acquitted, such actions,
directed at discrediting the church, would have continued. They
committed an immoral act and they should bear the punishment in the
form of real time, which they were given. The more so since they did
not demonstrate any real repentance," agrees political scientist Pavel
Danilin. We recall that recently in an interview on BBC activists
declared that they do not regret their action and they are ready to
repeat the "show" in the church of Christ the Savior.
A professor at VShE, Oleg Matveichev, notes that if "Pussy Riot"
members had been tried on the "extremism" article, the term would have
been far greater. For example, in 2009 a court in Orenburg sentenced to
six years incarceration young people who drew a swastika on a
synagogue. "That the 'Pussy Riot' members were tried for hooliganism
and not on the 'extremism' article is further proof that the trial did
not have a political hue." In his turn, Ivan Diachenko recalls that the
organizers of the "punk prayer service," in their words, dubbed a
musical line with a text containing attacks on the Russian authorities
onto an already made video, and the "performance" itself originally did
not have a political subtext. Group members were convicted for "going
to hold forth in the church," thereby offending the feelings of
believers, Diachenko emphasizes.
At the same time the expert is sure that the "Pussy Riot" action, which
the group claims to be a work of art, does not have anything to do with
real creativity, although support for the convicted feminists has been
expressed by such stars of the world stage as Madonna and Paul
McCartney. In Diachenko's opinion, representatives of western show
business do not understand in principle what happened and why it was
necessary to hold "Pussy Riot" members accountable. "There is nothing
surprising in Madonna's support of them. In her time, in order to gain
fame, she actually did the very same thing," Oleg Matveichev shared his
Often shocking behavior brings not only fame but also financial gain,
on which, it seems, participants in the "Pussy Riot" project were
seriously reckoning. So Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's husband, an
activist of the "War" art group, Petr Verzilov, recently expressed
concern about instances of illegal use by manufacturers of souvenirs of
the "Pussy Riot" brand, which, he says, has been officially registered
and may be used only with the permission of the legal owners. "If
someone now uses this trademark for personal gain and profits from the
sale of products with the 'Pussy Riot' image, he will have to answer
legally for the violation of patent law and for such a way of making
money," the husband of the convicted feminist stated, estimating the
size of "legal responsibility" at five million rubles.
In general, in Oleg Matveichev's opinion, however many supporters of
"Pussy Riot" protested, it was beneficial to the ideological inspirers
of the outrageous punk group that the girls got real time, since this
increases the "capitalization" of the project and permits the
conversion of the controversial fame into real money.
The president of the Institute of National Strategy, Mikhail Remizov,
finds an ideological subtext in the conflict: "From the
self-presentation of the 'Pussy Riot' punk group it appears that they
share the views of the radical feminist movement. They assume that
civilization is based on repressive institutions: the state, church,
and family. Therefore the philosophy of their activity is profoundly
hostile to traditional values. This ideology is dangerous. In its time
it had an extremely negative impact on western society."
However, experts think that this circumstance is not taken into account
by politicians who are not able to get past the noisy scandal and have
spoken out in defense of "Pussy Riot." A docent of the department
of political theory of MGIMOP, Yan Vaslavskii, notes that the Russian
opposition lives in another reality, far from the worldview of the
majority of Russians: "In general, it seems that there are some
two realities: a rather narrow reality for the opposition, for some
groups of provocateurs who are concentrated mainly in the capital in
the virtual environment and who try to prove something or conduct some
actions, and the other reality which is relevant to the overwhelming
majority of Russians." The expert is sure that if one goes outside the
Moscow Ring into any settlement and asks what "Pussy Riot" is, people
simply will not know what to say or their reaction will be extremely
"The centuries-old Russian culture is extremely tightly bound with
Orthodoxy, although we have other religions represented, and that is
good. But in any case, the church of Christ the Savior is one of the
symbols of Russia. It is understandable that such an antic in any case
will evoke rejection by Russians. Our society is structured rather
conservatively in the sense of respect for traditions and values,"
Vaslavskii argues. For this reason, in his opinion, the political
forces that spoke out in support of the punk group do not have the
least chance of increasing their influence. "Support of 'Pussy Riot' on
the part of the opposition on the strategic level is not likely to
facilitate the growth of their ratings. Possibly they will rack up
points with some radical groups and morally unstable youth, but nothing
more; political reality is much wider."
At the same time, experts note that such politicians, regardless of
their ideological coloration, have clearly lost electoral preferences.
Thus the vice-chairman of the Russian federation's Public Chamber's
Commission for the Development of Civil Society and Relations with the
Public Chambers of Component Elements of the Russian Federation, Irina
Pleshcheva, calls attention to the fact that, according to data of
Levada Center's survey, the 1% who are identified as supporters of
"Pussy Riot" do not exceed the statistical error stated by
"Representatives of the Russian opposition counted on their appearance
in the courtroom on the day of the handing down of the verdict to
provide a free means of showing up on the screen in order to improve
their sagging ratings. However they miscalculated. In linking their
name with 'Pussy Riot,' they marginalized themselves even more. This
was a shortsighted PR stunt," the general direction of the
Institute of Priority Regional Projects, Nikolai Mironov, agrees
with his colleague. (tr. by PDS, posted 21 August 2012)
Religion News Current News Items
"Pussy Riot" persecution continues
MOSCOW POLICE BEGIN SEARCH FOR TWO "PUSSY RIOT" MEMBERS AT LARGE
20 August 2012
Moscow police are continuing an active search "for two co-participants
of the 'Pussy Riot' case," the press service of the MVD directorate for
Moscow told the "BaltInfo" news agency on 20 August.
On 21 February, five persons took part in the action in the church of
Christ the Savior, of whom three (Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria
Alekhina, and Ekaterina Samutsevich) were convicted on 17 August by the
Moscow Khamovniki court.
"With regard to two unidentified 'Pussy Riot' members, the case was
divided into a separate process and at the present time an active
search is being conducted," the MVD directorate declared.
In the preliminary investigation and during the trial "Pussy Riot"
members refused to name these two members, and they also refused to
discuss the participation of other women in the punk prayer service.
As is known, some members of the punk group, whose action is based on
principles of anonymity, went abroad, but another part remained in
Russia. A few days ago "Novaia gazeta" published an extended interview
with members of the group who have remained at large. (tr. by PDS,
posted 20 August 2012)
ANOTHER CRIMINAL CASE MAY BE BEGUN AGAINST "PUSSY RIOT" GIRLS—FOR
20 August 2012
Three incarcerated girls from "Pussy Riot" may face yet another
criminal case, on the "extremism" article. This was reported in a
broadcast by "Russian News Service" on 20 August by an attorney of one
of the convicts, Violetta Volkova.
"Materials with respect to unidentified persons were separated out, as
were other materials separated out regarding article 282, the extremism
article. We expect the opening of yet another criminal case against the
girls, or it has already been opened and we will learn about its
investigation in the near future," she noted.
In Volkova's opinion, the members of the punk group who have been
declared to be wanted face a yet more severe punishment than the girls
who have already been convicted, because "they have been fleeing from
justice" for a long time. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 August 2012)
LAVROV WARNS AGAINST INTERFERENCE IN WORK OF COURT ON "PUSSY RIOT" CASE
20 August 2012
The head of the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs [MID], Sergei
Lavrov, thinks interference in the court's work on the "Pussy Riot"
case is impermissible. "It is forbidden to interfere in the work of the
court. One may personally agree or disagree, but interfering in the
court's work is impermissible," said S. Lavrov on Monday at a press
conference in Helsinki.
He also called for not stirring up hysteria surrounding the trial of
the "Pussy Riot" case.
"I remind those who are trying to present the case as if our court did
not make the decision independently, and that on the eve of the
announcement of the verdict even the Russian president spoke in favor
of showing leniency toward these girls, and that the leadership of the
Russian Orthodox Church took a similar position. In any event, nobody
has set aside the judicial proceedings; there is the possibility of
appeal so let's not make any hasty conclusions and certainly not stir
up any hysteria," S. Lavrov declared at a press conference on the
results of negotiations with his Finnish counterpart, Erkki Tuomioja.
Thus he reacted to a request for comment on statement that the sentence
in the case was disproportionate to the deed of the "Pussy Riot" stunt.
At the same time, S. Lavrov remarked that in a number of European
countries there exist sanctions, established by law, against blasphemy
within church buildings.
"Speaking about whether the punishment was proportionate or
disproportionate, I can be guided only by the facts of the case. In
Germany, up to three years incarceration are provided for sacrilege and
blasphemy in churches, in France—two years, in Austria—six months, in
Finland, so far as I know, two years are provided for Blasphemy in
churches," he noted. The head of MNID also recalled that recently in
Israel, a man was sentenced to two years incarceration for bringing a
severed pig's head onto the Temple Mount. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 August
COURT TO CONSIDER SUIT AGAINST "PUSSY RIOT" FOR MORAL DAMAGES
20 August 2012
The Kuntsevo court of Moscow will begin hearings at the beginning of
September on the substance of a law suit seeking compensation of 30
thousand rubles against "Pussy Riot" members, who were given real
prison time for an action in the church of Christ the Savior.
"The hearings on the substance will begin 7 September," an attorney for
the plaintiff, Aleksei Krestianov, told journalists.
According to the suit's declaration, a resident of Novosibirsk, Irina
Ruzankina, suffered moral harm from the actions of the group's members
in the church of Christ the Savior, which she valued at 30 thousand
The attorney noted that no medical certification of the moral and
ethical damages she suffered was presented during the trial on the part
of the declarer. Absence of such a document often become the reason for
rejection of claims for compensation.
As A. Krestianov stated, the girls may count on a profit after
their action, since they are due payments for public performance of
their composition. "'Pussy Riot' have earned large sums from their
performance. There are still others wanting to file law suits who
suffered moral damage. But for now we are waiting for a decision on the
already existing declaration," he said.
The lawyer added that defenders of the punk group's members have not
appeared at negotiations. "They were informed in the proper way. Under
such conditions the law provides for conducting the trial in their
absence. There are cases of rendering an absentee decision on suits
without a defendant's participation," the attorney said.
According to A. Krestianov, representatives of the plaintiff suggested
to the court that the trial be closed. "This question has been
discussed and we do not know the position of the other side, so it is
still impossible to resolve it. But in the trial personal information
about the plaintiff will be heard, which we would not want to make
public," he said, adding that on Monday evening his client intends to
give a press conference in one of the restaurants of the capital. He
explained that she will be there with security and thus she will be
able to express her position safely. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 August 2012)
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