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Russia

Russian Orthodox Church Asks For Clemency For Convicted Pussy Riot Members

A Russian Orthodox priest holds up an icon outside the court building in Moscow where three members of Pussy Riot were sentenced on August 17.
A Russian Orthodox priest holds up an icon outside the court building in Moscow where three members of Pussy Riot were sentenced on August 17.
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By RFE/RL
The Orthodox Church in Russia has asked for clemency to be shown to three women from the punk feminist group Pussy Riot.

The three were sentenced on August 17 to two years in prison after performing a song against President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral in February.

The sentence followed Judge Marina Syrova's ruling that band members Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich had "committed hooliganism driven by religious hatred."

The United States, Britain, France, and the European Union have all criticized the sentence as excessive, and a telephone poll by the liberal Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy found three-fourths of respondents disagreed with the verdict.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Putin couldn't intervene in the judicial process and refused to comment on the sentence.

Amnesty International said the trial was politically motivated and the women were wrongfully prosecuted for a legitimate, if potentially offensive, protest action, adding that the verdict was "a bitter blow to freedom of expression" in Russia.

Dozens of small demonstrations have been held in cities ranging from Barcelona and Copenhagen to Sydney, Riga, and Tbilisi to protest the verdict.

In New York, dozens of protesters gathered outside the Russian Embassy on August 17 before moving to Times Square,

One of the protesters, Russian-born Olga Rychkova, told RFE/RL that the government was wrong to portray the Pussy Riot case as an issue of religious intolerance rather than acknowledging the growing dissatisfaction in the country with Putin's autocratic methods.

"The government doesn't have the guts to admit that the women are actually being tried on political charges," she said, and that it "tried to disguise it as hooliganism and offending religious feelings -- religious hatred -- which has nothing to do with who they [Pussy Riot] are, with what they had to say."

Moscow Protesters Freed, For Now

Moscow police said on August 18 that the more than 50 protesters detained outside the court on August 17 had all been released, including chess champion and opposition leader Garry Kasparov.

News agencies reported that Kasparov may face additional questioning and possible charges after authorities accused him of having bitten a police officer during his arrest.

Kasparov has denied the charges, claiming he himself was beaten by police.

His lawyer, Nikolai Polozov, told RFE/RL's Russian Service that the authorities may use the biting allegation to threaten Kasparov with jail time.

"This is a rather widespread scenario in which the police beat someone up and then file a case against that person under Article 318 charging him with causing the police physical harm," Polozov said.

"I do not believe this trick will work in Garry Kasparov's case, but nevertheless, the situation is rather serious."

'Verdict Suits Everyone'

The Russian Orthodox Church's appeal for clemency in the Pussy Riot case has fueled speculation that Alyokhina, Tolokonnikova, and Samutsevich could eventually have their sentences reduced on appeal.

Some Muscovites said they would welcome. But others were less sympathetic.

Sergei, a bystander outside Christ the Savior Cathedral, said the Pussy Riot protest and their trial amounted to little more than a PR stunt.

"I think everything suits everyone. It suits the girls -- they will come out [of prison] as some sort of fighters for God knows what. It suits the prosecutor -- he demanded three years [in jail]. It suits the judge -- she showed mercy [by sentencing them to a lesser term]," he said.

"And now the authorities -- they will keep them in prison for a while and then release them. Everything will be all right. Even you [journalists] will also have a chance to earn money on this story. Everything suits everybody," he continued.

"The only ones it doesn't suit are the ones who got slammed on the head with batons yesterday [outside the court], but they deserved it. What the hell did they think they were doing?"

With reporting by ITAR-TASS, AFP, AP, and Reuters
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by: SEAHORSE from: MALAYSIA
August 18, 2012 09:01
ITS COMMUNIST COUNTRY
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by: Anonymous
August 18, 2012 13:03
yes , and you live in a arab Caliphate ....

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