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Execute not pardon

Yury Pilipenko, Doctor of Law

Pussy Riot have deserved neither musical glory, nor jail time. That’s just the way it happened.

Matthew, 5, 44: “Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”.

The action performed by Pussy Riot, a feminist punk group, in the Temple of Christ the Savior and the criminal case initiated against the group participants provoked much discussion in the society and conflicting reaction by the believers. What’s the problem with Pussy Riot? Isn’t the true problem the state of religion, morality or justice in our society, in our country?

Feminists in the Temple

As it is known, five masked girls in bright clothes ran up the solea and ambon of the Temple of Christ the Savior (in a Orthodox Christian temple a solea is an elevation in front of the altar sector of the iconostasis, and an ambon is the sector of the solea in front of the Sanctuary Doors; only the clergy is allowed to access the solea, the parishioners are banned from it). No church service was in course at the Temple, and the girls turned on the sound amplifiers they had brought and did a performance, screaming, according to the media, “insults towards the clergy and the believers” (see, for example, The employees of the private security agency, which services the Temple, interrupted the action by forcefully escorting them outside.

Afterwards it was made known that a feminist punk group Pussy Riot claimed responsibility for the incident by publishing a photo and video report on the Temple of Christ the Savior action. The group’s members, on their page in Twitter, proclaimed that their performance had been a “punk worship” called “Mother of God, exorcise Putin”. (

On February 22, Dmitry Pakhomov, a pro-rector of the Orthodox Christian Missionary School under Apostle Thomas Temple in Moscow, addressed Yury Chaika, the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, requesting to conduct a prosecutor’s check of the fact of holding a “punk worship”. He assumed that “this blasphemous prank” could be classified, pursuant to the Penal Code of the Russian Federation, as hooliganism committed by a group of persons for the motives of political, ideological, racial, national or religious hatred or enmity or for the motives of hatred or enmity towards any social group (

On February 26, on the Sunday of Forgiveness (!!!), the media informed that the police, upon request on the Orthodox Christian activists and in connection with the incident, initiated a criminal case pursuant to part 2 of Article 213 of the CCRF “On hooliganism”, which sanctions a penalty of up to 7 years of imprisonment.

Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, detained as suspects on March 3, were committed. Both suspects, who have babies, on March 4 declared a hunger strike, protesting against the investigator’s actions.

Vladimir Legoyda, Chairman of the Synodal Information Section of the Moscow Patriarchate, disproved the opinion, that was forming in a part of the society, that “the girl hooligans were arrested upon the Church’s instructions” (

On March 12, they were charged with the crime under part 2 of Article 213 of the CCRF (hooliganism committed by a group of persons).

Reaction of the society

The initiated criminal case and the custodial placement of Alekhina and Tolokonnikova made a large part of the society indignant. Their views were expressed by Vladimir Lukin, the Ombudsman of the Russian Federation. He stressed that he was extremely surprised with the whole story of detention and custody of the “two pranksters”, who behaved obscenely in the Tempe of Christ the Savior. He said: “Of course, obscenity is obscenity, and nothing else. But a criminal case on this and custody for this are beyond reason” (

Pickets and actions of solidarity with Pussy Riot timed with the International Women’s Day were held in Moscow and abroad. But a worship for support of the group members placed in custody, marked for March 8, was not held. According to Nikolay Polozov, Advocate of Pussy Riot, the Temple of Christ the Savior was closed for technical reasons, provokers were present, a brawl occurred and three persons were detained (

Meanwhile, certain “practicing Christians” claimed for severe punishment of the feminists. Boris Yakemenko, leader of the Orthodox Christian wing of the “Nashi” movement, reminded that the Book of Leviticus commandment to stone blasphemers to death had never been revoked, and celibate priest Vitaly (Utkin) of Ivanovo diocese, wrote that blasphemers were to be burned under the laws of XVII century (

At the same time, a parishioner of the Temple of the Assumption in the Gazetny Lane Lida Moniava published in her LiveJournal an appeal to Patriarch Kirill to show Christian mercy to Pussy Riot members and to request the court to close the criminal case.

She stated in her appeal that criminal persecution and custody were even less acceptable than the girls’ behavior. “Cruel comments on the “punk worship” participants by the Orthodox Christian Church members”, who “rain hatred and rage on their heads” during the Great Fast were also called unacceptable. The Gospel says: “Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”. (Matthew, 5, 44) (

Over three thousand people, Orthodox Christians and other believers among them, subscribed to this.

It looks understandable what were the causes of such merciful attitude of some believers towards the girls: mercy is doubtlessly the pivot of Christianity.

However, the severity of other believers towards the participants of the action is likely explained by the peculiarity of the Orthodox Christian belief, which has become evident lately, that Christ’s teachings are to be primarily accepted through suffering: “The Lord has suffered, and He ordered us to”, and by the inevitability of Divine punishment for the earthly sins: “It is Mine to avenge; I will repay”. Suffering is the earthly way of atonement, that is why Christian love and mercy towards the sinners are perceived by some as less important than the necessity to punish them. But to what extent is such asceticism authentic to the essence of Christianity?

The reaction of the Church

Prominent personalities of the Russian Orthodox Church reacted firmly.

Archpriest Vsevolod (Chaplin), Chairman of the Synodal Section on interaction of the Church and society of the Moscow Patriarchate, is of the opinion that the detention of the group “will help to eradicate the illusion of impunity”, and their crime “should be exposed and condemned on the level of judicial authority decisions”. Archpriest Vsevolod expressed his hope that “the law enforcers and the society will realize the huge threat this crime poses, the schism between people it plants, the severe response it provokes. It may destroy the social peace, it may make huge masses of people clash” (

Archpriest Vsevolod also hopes that the investigation and the trial will give to this crime “an ultimately just appraisal”. He says: “It is excellent that the law enforcement agencies have taken seriously the investigation of the crime committed in the Temple of Christ the Savior”. The archpriest is convinced that it was no mere hooliganism, but an insult of the believers’ feelings, instigation of hatred towards them, defilement of a sacred site, and that “it is obvious to anyone who reads the text of the performance by those ladies, available at the Internet”.

The minister of Church believes that the appraisal of the crime should be made in such a way, that “no one in the future would have so much as a thought of doing something like this. If neither the reason nor the respect to the feelings of others has any effect, let at least fear act, if these people are unable to understand anything without it. Certainly, this being the first time, mercy may be shown. There should be no imprisonment, perhaps, but punishment must be inevitable, and serious. Moreover, the respective provisions of the legislation require more strictness”. He adds that those politicians who fail to condemn the action may “stop counting with the support of the Orthodox Christians” (

V.Legoyda, Chairman of the Synodal Information Section of the Moscow Patriarchate, informed that the official representatives of the Church did not support the idea of imprisonment sentence on the case, but “urged for its civil condemnation and recognition as a crime”. V.Legoyda said: “The Church is always inclined to show mercy, even if those who act against it “know not what they do”. However, he asked that it not be forgotten that “the girls who had committed the blasphemous and disgusting deed showed no sign of repentance during the whole time which passed since then” ( The Chairman is of the opinion that “this is the case when the consequences of the act are worse that the act itself”, which “is no “innocent prank” and is not in any way related to the freedom of speech, or to human rights, or to any of the democratic values” (

Archpriest Vladimir (Vigiliansky), Head of the Press Service of the Moscow Patriarchate, believes that the society’s appeal to the Patriarch is based upon “first, the Church’s intervention in the affairs of the State; second, legal nihilism disruptive for any society” ( The authors of the appeal “incite Patriarch Kirill to violate the constitutional separation of the Church from the State – this is unacceptable. The Church may not request that the State should not fulfil its public duty” ( The archpriest stresses that “the society must defend itself from the provocations which divide people. The society that does not fight this, in fact, commits suicide” (

Finally, Metropolitan Illarion (not yet the first, but already not the second person of the Russian Orthodox Church), being interviewed by TV “Rain”, declared that the Church had no motives to request mercy to the girls, since the Church is separated from the State.

There is an impression that the more solid the position of the Church as of an organization under a rude provocative attack, the farther away from the source of Christianity it moves. Is this not a paradox? And would not the Church have to maneuver in the opposite direction in order to maintain its “identity”?

Insult and punishment

If the five-minute “show” in the Temple of Christ the Savior is regarded as a provocation, one may remember that no reaction is the best reaction to a provocation. The “punk worship” was held on Shrovetide, which is the time when, according to the canons of the Orthodox, ancient Russian culture, norms are broken, social cosmos crumbles. Many things not usually permitted were tolerated during Shrovetide: people dressed up as beasts, beasts were dressed up as people, a peasant could be seen wearing a Czar’s vestments, or a drunkard – a clergyman’s dress. It was regarded as amusement, not as sin.

According to the first impression of archdeacon Andrey Kuraev, Professor of the Moscow Spiritual Academy, the only successful reaction to the act of the Pussy Riot feminists would have been an unexpected one. Defenselessness has been the Christians’ main weapon for centuries, and the “reaction of evil” could be stopped by “not hitting back”. Had he been the Temple’s keeper of the keys, he “would have fed pancakes to the girls, given each a cup of mead and invited to come back to take part in a rite of forgiveness” (

But if we take into account the moral and social guidelines of Pussy Riot made clear in other actions and “art”, it is obvious that forgiveness and a Christian conversation would hardly cause those “hearts” to “soften”. The feminists – and others – would surely perceive such attitude as a demonstration of weakness, a sign that they may keep staging such cynical actions with impunity.

Had they even been brought to administrative responsibility under part 2 of Article 5.26 of the Administrative Offences Code (for insulting the religious feelings of citizens or defiling revered items, signs and world-view symbols), the punishment fixed by this provision is administrative fine of up to one thousand roubles, which would hardly stimulate them to refrain from holding such performances.

On the other hand, those believers and officials of the Russian Orthodox Church who did not show indulgence but demanded serious and unavoidable punishment for the punk feminists, acted, as perceived by a large part of the society, contrary to the religious, ethical and moral ideals of Christianity.

Andrey Kuraev expressed the following opinion: at first the Church acted “like a victim, like an offended side”, but in the course of the following two weeks It radically changed Its status in the perception of many people: “And today many people regard the Church as a generator of hatred, vindictiveness, and it is rather those feminist girls … who try on the martyr’s wreaths instead of ski masks they wore on February 21” (

“They imagined the Church as a shameless structure, which had merged with the state authorities (on which those feminists are too of a negative opinion), soulless and inhuman. Had we been able to stick to the position of an insulted victim, had we (the Church community) been able to tolerate the prank – we would have shown that that caricature within the “protestants’” heads had nothing to do with the real life of our Church. But as of now, it is happening that we have successfully persuaded them (and many others) of directly the opposite”, Andrey Kuraev wrote in his blog (

Ideological scheme

The archdeacon changed his attitude towards Pussy Riot case after the session of the Moscow Spiritual Academy was held on March 12 (certain media baptized the session “a comrades’ trial”), where his assessment was declared hasty. The case had another aspect - violation of limits of intervention in the life of other people: “Unless the temple is yours, you should not enter it with your own rules in order to create hindrances”. This moral imperative is no less important than the Christian maxims of mercy and forgiveness. And the problem is equally significant for the believers of the Russian Orthodox Church and for the members of other religious denominations.

A.Kuraev explained the position of the Church: “It is not condemnation we want. It is not “criminality” that matters. We wish that the persons of democratic ideas would say that in such cases the pain becomes general, and an intended insult of a member of society, no matter his nationality and politics, is the problem of the whole society. Therefore, a moral veto should be voiced”.

However, “many people would applaud this action”, and certain Russian and foreign media try to propagate the idea that the prank by Pussy Riot has nothing to be condemned for morally: “it is their freedom of expression, it is their political protest”. Therefore, the problem lies not in the suspects’ personalities, but rather in “a certain ideological and political scheme”. Only the court may give legal evaluation of their actions, and the initiation of a criminal case is one of the forms of social admonition, alongside with moral admonition ( _tserkov-197668/).

“Conspirology” versions

But a part of the society and mass media do not condemn this despicable act and treat the suspects as martyrs, who have suffered for the “freedom of expression”. Could this be a sign of appearance of a new trend in the world, namely – of a growing anti-Christian ideology?

There is a version that some “world conspiracy” against Christianity – precisely and only. The version is quite wide-spread, even though, just like any other of its kind, it lacks direct proof. It is indirectly corroborated, for example, by stories, constantly served by the mass media, which give the impression that homosexuality and pedophilia and little else are the main occupations of Catholic priests. And hardly a few days have passed since the moment when the Cabinet of Ministers of the United Kingdom adopted a document according to which employers were entitled to prohibit the use of neck-worn crosses over the clothes and to dismiss those who refuse to hide their crosses. In that way, by taking the path of fighting Christianity, the British authorities decided to protect the rights of other denominations’ members and atheists. The British Christians capitulated to such “political correctness”. Were they not able to defend their rights? Haven’t they tried to? Don’t they want to?

A celebrated case “Lautsi Against Italy” comes to mind: in 2009, the European Court of Human Rights banned crucifixes from Italian schools following a complaint by an Italian citizen of Finnish origin. The woman complained that Christian symbols in the classrooms of the school her two sons went to impeded the secular education for them. The decision caused an explosion of indignation in Italy, where 90% of the citizens consider themselves Catholics. Italy appealed against the decision, and it was revoked in 2011 – unlike the Britons, the Italian Christians were both able and willing to fight for their values and ideas.

The existence of “world conspiracy” against Christianity is also completely feasible from the esoteric point of view. According to it, the planet and the humanity develop in age cycles. The Age of Pisces – a Christian symbol – comes to an end and the Age of Aquarius begins, when Christianity is bound to lose its current form. And a post-Christian era will begin.

In this case, the conclusion that the Church has taken the “punk worship” as an element of an offensive against Orthodoxy and Christianity as a whole looks legit. The same Andrey Kuraev supposes that the “punk worship” is “just a small breeze before a coming system storm”. The idea to make a “show” in the Temple might have been suggested to Pussy Riot by someone, and the girls, with their inclination towards uncommon ways of “self-expression”, were simply manipulated.

If this supposition is correct, does the Church have the right to defend Itself? Seemingly so. But if the Christians, contrary to the main ideas of their belief, do not “turn the other cheek” when faced by external manifestations of evil aimed at them, do they remain Christians in the full sense of the word? That is a question!

Another “conspirology theory”: the performance by Pussy Riot is nothing more than a hyperbolized answer to the participation of the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill in the election campaign of a certain candidate to the Presidency of the Russian Federation (like some observers construed the position of the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church(. If this is really so, then this stupid prank may be considered as just another episode of the election campaign, where, as history shows, all is fair. Pity, though, that many believes were unjustly offended.

Finally, we cannot avoid assuming that some personalities close to the Church, wishing to undermine the beginning dialogue between the Church and certain “high-life get-together” protagonists, organized this provocation (it would seem, it would not be so easy to get inside the Temple of Christ the Savior with guitars and sound equipment). They might have counted on cancellation of the potential turn of certain hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church towards the “meeting-going city people”. The authenticity of this version cannot be ascertained, but precisely such result of the provocation is starting to look evident.

The necessity to uphold the order

Regarding the legal aspect of the situation. According to part 1 of Article 213 of the Penal Code of Russia, hooliganism is a gross violation of social order expressing clear disrespect towards the society and committed: with the use of weapons or items used as weapons (clause “a”); form the motives of political, ideological, racial, national or religious hatred or enmity or for the motives of enmity or hatred towards a certain social group (clause “b”). Part 2 of Article 213 stipulates responsibility for the same deed committed by a group of persons with previous concert or by an organized group.

Responsibility for hooliganism was established in the Penal Code of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and it remains in the legislation of several ex-USSR countries. Some European states beyond the post-Soviet territories have similar criminal law prohibitions, but the term “hooliganism” is not used.

Hooliganism appeared for the first time in the Penal Code of RSFSR in 1922 in the Chapter on crimes against life, health, freedom and personal dignity. In the Penal Code of RSFSR of 1926 the construction of the article on hooliganism was sufficiently changed, it was transferred to the chapter on other offences against the government order. The lawmaker attempted to ban the actions violating the Socialist law and order. The meaning of the terms like “gross violation of social order”, “clear disrespect towards the society”, “special audacity”, “exceptional cynicism”, through which the crime was defined, was construed ambiguously in practice and in theory.

During the 50-ies of the XX century, the hooliganism norm was moved to the chapter on crimes against social safety, public order and health of the population and formed in the following way: “Hooliganism, or gross violation of social order and clear disrespect towards the society…” (part 1 of Article 206 of the Penal Code of RSFSR of 1960). The indicators of the corpus delicti were not laid out in a concrete manner, which caused a discord in the investigation and court practice.

Exclusion from definition

In 1996, the lawmaker dropped the responsibility for the so-called simple hooliganism, which was defined only by the above indicators. According to part 1 of Article 213 of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation, hooliganism was defined as gross violation of public order, expressing clear disrespect towards the society, with violence towards citizens or with threats of such violence, or with destruction or damage of alien property.

Most foreign criminal laws which fix responsibility for hooliganism or similar deeds stipulate violence or threat of violence as an indicator of this crime (vide, for example, Z.Apostolova, Comparative analysis of legal regulation of hooliganism in the Penal codes of foreign countries // Justice of Peace. 2008. No 5).

But the Federal Law No. 162-FZ “On changing and amending the Penal Code of the Russian Federation” dated December 8, 2003, radically changed the signs of hooliganism. “Application or threat of application of violence to citizens and destruction or damage to alien property” was excluded from the disposition of part 1 of Article 213 of the CCRF. Hooliganism passed to be criminally punished only when committed with the use of weapons or items used as weapons.

A point of view is scientifically proven that the exclusion of the sign of application or threat of application of violence from the corpus delicti of hooliganism is not completely justified, since the very essence of hooliganism implies a measure of violence in the offender’s actions, and hooliganism is traditionally classified as a violent crime. Therefore, “the exclusion by the lawmaker from the definition of such signs of the objective side of the crime, which were earlier present, as application or threat of application of violence and destruction or damage to alien property, does not mean that no attention should be given to such actions. They remain in the lawmaker’s field of view, but (as well as other actions) now characterize the deed which resulted in gross violation of public order” (E. Ovcharenko. Legal assessment of hooliganism // Russian Law Magazine. 2004. No. 3. Page 127).

The sign of hooliganism fixed by item “b” of the current edition of part 1 of Article 213 of the Penal Code of Russia was introduced by the Federal Law No. 211-FZ “On amendments to certain legal acts of the Russian Federation within the framework of improving the governance in the area of combating extremism” dated July 24, 2007. Therefore, the current criminal law sees hooliganism as two qualitatively different crimes, one of which is aggravated by the use of weapons, and the other – by a special motive.

This evidences the absence of a single understanding of hooliganism with all signs inherent to this deed. Within the law-application practice, it is precisely this circumstance which leads to the arising of many questions related to the non-existence of clear criteria which define the essence of the violation of public order with clear disrespect towards the society (Z.Apostolova. Discussion aspects of criminal law characteristic of hooliganism as given by the Federal Law No. 211-FZ dated July 24, 2007 // Russian Investigator. 2007. No. 24).

The lawmaker establishes, by item “b” of part 1 of Article 213 of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation, criminal responsibility for hooliganism committed “for the motives of political, ideological, racial, national or religious hatred or enmity or for the motives of hatred or enmity towards a certain social group”, but does not specify which actions make up the corpus delicti of this crime.

Evaluation indicators

The disposition includes two evaluation indicators: “gross violation of public order” and “clear disrespect towards the society”, and this endows the law enforcers with the unjustified opportunities to apply Article 213 of the CCRF in a broader, more arbitrary way.

These opportunities are somewhat limited, but not eliminated, by the content of item 1 of the Resolution No. 45 by the Board of the Supreme Court of Russia dated November 15, 2007, which explains that “when deciding whether the accused’s actions contained gross violation of public order, expressing clear disrespect towards the society, the courts should take into account the way, the time, the place of the perpetration, as well as their intensity, duration and other circumstances. Such actions may be perpetrated against a certain person as well as against an indefinite number of persons. The person’s clear disrespect towards the society is expressed by deliberate violation of common norms and rules of conduct, dictated by the perpetrator’s desire to oppose him (her) self to the others, to demonstrate scorn towards them”.

The terms “gross violation”, “public order”, “gross disrespect towards the society” cannot be clearly defined, which is evidenced by the wordings suggested by scientists, for example:

  • “public order – respect of the rules of the communal life regulated by legal and moral norms”;
  • “clear disrespect towards the society is expressed by demonstrative, insolent, disdainful counteraction to the interests of citizens, who may be unacquainted with the offender, generally in public” (Commentary on the Penal Code of the Russian Federation (article by article) / Responsible editor V.I.Radchenko, scientific editor A.S.Mikhlin, V.A.Kazakova. 2nd edition, revised and expanded. M., 2008);
  • “gross violation of public order means significance, seriousness of the ofeence, which greatly infringes upon the established order of interpersonal communication in the society” (Commentary on the Penal Code of the Russian Federation (article by article) / (editor A.I.Chuchaev. 2nd edition, corrected, revised and expanded. M., 2010).

Therefore, due to the existence of evaluation indicators, which allow for a very broad construction, actions not having public danger may fall within the scope of item “b” of part 1 of Article 213. In other words, criminal law may be selectively applied to persons who commit actions, which do not infringe upon the legally protected interests. This is exactly the situation when law is tasked with protecting the authorities from the citizens.

By the way, Article 213 may be used by the State in this way (due to arbitrary construction) and is thus close to Article 159 of the CCRF “Fraud”. The only difference is that the article on hooliganism is used for “beating” those who are not rich, and the article on fraud is used against the economically active. Both lack clear definitions of the corpus delicti but contain very serious sanctions.

Morality in the form of a law

But the law is based on the morality, and Russian legists have always stressed that law is only a minimum of morality, or morality in the form of a law. For example, V.S.Soloviov defined law as “compulsory requirement to do minimal good or to impose order which would not permit certain evil” (V.S.Soloviov. Justification of the Good // Moral philosophy. T. 1). Selective application of law and arbitrary construction of the border between good and evil, which is established by it, is unethical and immoral. It turns out that the Church has sanctioned the use of dubious means to protect Itself and the believers from the prank by Pussy Riot.

Of course, protection of the State must not be withheld from the believers and the Church, otherwise they would be outlawed. The paradox lies in that immoral means may be employed to protect the people adhering to the Christian morality and the Church – a paragon of morality and ethics.

A possible way out of this situation would be toughening the sanction of part 2 of Article 5.26 of the Administrative Offences Code of Russia, for example, significant increase of the amount of administrative fine or even administrative custody. But a much greater clarity of the understanding what is “gross violation of public order” and “clear disrespect towards society” is needed.

The aspect related to the definition of “religious feelings” is also very important, since a large number of various religious cults are available apart from the largest religious denominations. The mere number of believers can hardly testify to the purity of the Faith.

And how can one decide, which religious beliefs should be protected by the law and which should not? Archdeacon Andrey Kuraev is joking: “Suppose someone says: My mother-in-law is a goddess and a savior of mankind, and if someone gives her a side glance, I will be mortally offended and all, he is a blasphemer”. ( raskololi_tserkov-197668/).


Pussy Riot group members, whether they wanted it or not, made it to the focal point of problems of religion, morality, ethics and justice in our society and country. And they may become victims not so much of their own stupidity, as of practically irredeemable controversies, which arise on the borderlines of those problems.

These controversies have led to a zugzwang – a position when any move the player makes leads to the deterioration of his position.

It looks like the Church loses in any situation. Should the ladies receive their pardon, the conservative wing (nothing is known of any other wing of the Russian Orthodox Church), for which mercy is just another word for liberalism, will be indignant. Should they be mercilessly punished – intelligent young people, who are at the Church’s threshold, may forsake It. For them, mercy is more than just a word.

The authorities are also hostages of the “punish not pardon” situation. “Punishment” seems more favourable – it carries general edification, but it is too short-sighted: many people do not see the deed as grievous. And “pardon” is out of the question: it may be seen as a sign of weakness paving the road to permissiveness.

Finally, justice: the article on hooliganism is imputed artificially. Are there many people who doubt that the initiation of the case, and the employment of huge forces for the capture of two girls, and their custody were not decided on by judges and investigators only?

And the suspects are held in custody not in order to protect them from lynching (as the Church representatives insist), but to break their will, not let them construct a simple, unsophisticated defense: there was no violence nor hatred in their provocative and tactless prank –but only love, for example.

Modern Russian criminal justice is exceedingly cruel.

It would be well if not only practicing lawyers but also “practicing Christians” remembered that.

The society is in turmoil: what will happen next? The “reactionary and protective” part of the society claims for a cruel punishment. The believers “out of Suffering” agree with them. The believers “out of Love” request that the sinner girls be pardoned. The pragmatical clergy seems to be confused, wishing to be cruel, but the Christian values impede them to be. And the “stoning to death” citations look like outright obscurantism. So they avoid speaking on the girls’ destiny, alleging separation of the Church from the State. And a part of the recent meeting-going city people may inscribe the “worshipper” feminists’ destiny on the banners of “war on the regime”, giving thus another motive for schism in their already weakened ranks.

The by-gone Dreyfuss case comes to mind. Dreyfuss, a Jewish officer of the General Staff of France, was unjustly convicted in 1894 for spying for Germany. The case became the subject of an intense social and political struggle in France. The reactionaries used it to instigate anti-Semitism and chauvinism, attacking the Republican regime and democratic liberties. The progressive-minded industrial workers and intellectuals, many Socialists, supported the Republic and demanded acquittal of Dreyfuss. The struggle around the Dreyfuss case caused a severe political crisis.


The wish to dissociate oneself from Pussy Riot by condemning their prank is fully understandable. But come to think of it, all social, religious and scientific impulses, which had changed the world, could be labeled as provocative and stupid by the contemporaries. The action has obviously led to the discovery of a most complex conflict, the origins of which lie in the intertwined problems of religion, morality, ethics and justice in our country. Well, the laws of dialectics say that conflict is the cause of development and progress.

One wishes to hope that the today’s authorities of Russia will find the adequate means to react to such provocations. The hooliganism charge is a “futile attempt”.

“Lord, guide You Yourself their will and teach them to pray, to hope, to believe, to love and to forgive”.

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