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Russian Orthodox Church asks authorities to show mercy on Pussy Riot

Published time: August 17, 2012 15:45
Edited time: August 17, 2012 21:07
Procession and prayer standing in defense of the faith, desecrated shrines, the Church and its good name (RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov)

Procession and prayer standing in defense of the faith, desecrated shrines, the Church and its good name (RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov)

Officials from Russia’s Orthodox Church have appealed to the country’s authorities to "show mercy" on the three members of Pussy Riot sentenced to two years in jail for a "punk prayer" in Moscow’s main cathedral.

­“Casting no doubt on the legitimacy of the court’s decision, we appeal to the public authorities to show mercy, within the law, on the convicted in the hope they will never repeat such blasphemous actions,” the Russian Orthodox Church's High Council said in a statement.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Ekaterina Samutsevich have each been sentenced to two years in a medium-security prison for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

"We think the words of pity for the convicted which have been coming from the Church's children and other people are natural. It is necessary to divide the sin from sinner and reprimand the first while hoping the latter will improve," said the Orthodox Church.

The Church condemned "the intentional act of blasphemy" as well as the "rude hostility to millions of peopleand their feelings" they say the Pussy Riot manifested back in February. They also pointed out that blasphemy which qualifies as "a sin against God" can only be forgiven after "sincere repentance."

Still, calls were made on people hurt by the punk performance to abstain from revenge or violence.

This is the first official statement Russia's Orthodox Church has made since the trial began. Like President Vladimir Putin, the top clerics refrained from remarks that could affect the judge's decision. Nevertheless, Putin ventured a small comment on August 3 saying the three girls should not be judged too harshly.

In February, Pussy Riot performed a "punk prayer" in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral. Dressed in bright, short dresses and balaclavas, they sang a song with controversial lyrics, slamming a perceived merger of state with the Church, and called on the Virgin Mary to banish Vladimir Putin, who was Prime Minister at that time.

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