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Russian ombudsman: Pussy Riot singers' being in jail "against our law"

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=9479 02 July 2012, 10:06 Russian ombudsman: Pussy Riot singers being in jail against our law Vladivostok,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2, 2012

      02 July 2012, 10:06
      Russian ombudsman: Pussy Riot singers' being in jail "against our law"

      Vladivostok, Russia, July 2, Interfax - Russia's ombudsman said in a
      television program that it is "absolutely against our law" that three
      women punk rock singers arrested in February for a scandalous anti-Putin
      performance in Moscow's main Orthodox cathedral are still in jail.

      "There's one problem that must be solved as soon as possible - it should
      preferably have been solved yesterday: why on earth are they still
      behind bars?" Human Rights Commissioner told Russia's Rossiya 1
      television. "Why are they behind bars without a prompt trial?"

      It is "absolutely against our law" that the three members of the Pussy
      Riot band are still in jail for performing, with faces covered with
      masks, a punk rock-style prayer inside the Cathedral of Christ the
      Savior on February 21 in which they asked God to deliver Russia from the
      rule of President Vladimir Putin.

      "So they must be released. If there is a reason to put them on trial,
      let there be a trial, but my personal opinion is that it's an
      administrative case that is, of course, reprehensible, but no more than
      that," Lukin said.

      "Some people are demanding that those ladies repent," he said, adding
      that he expected that "in 15 or 20 years they will, most likely, repent."

      "But coercion as a way to achieve repentance is a totally unacceptable
      thing, one that smacks of Soviet-era dust," Lukin said.

      This week 103 key figures in Russia's arts published an open letter in
      defense of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina

      The Rossiya 1 program presenter asked whether Lukin would have put his
      signature to the letter, which appeared in Moscow daily Moskovsky

      "I don't think that the commissioner, being, after, all a pretty
      individual figure, would be well-advised to sign collective letters. But
      essentially, I agree with much of what those respected citizens have
      written," Lukin said.

      He also said he had raised the Pussy Riot case during a recent meeting
      with Putin.

      "My position," Lukin said, "is basically that, first of all, these young
      women behaved quite inappropriately, scandalously, and in that sense I
      don't, of course, have any sympathy for them. Secondly, in a secular
      state this is by no means a criminal case but an administrative one at
      most. But the main point is that it's a reason for serious thought."

      Film director Nikita Mikhalkov commented on the letter in the same program.

      He said he would "never" have signed the letter. "Because this letter
      was signed by 103 persons, we know all of them. But if I take a
      signature roll with a text of opposite content and go through one city,
      not even through the country, I'll be able to collect 130,000 signatures
      against it," Mikhalkov said.

      He dismissed the point in the letter that the punk-style prayer
      inflicted no material damage on anyone. "Millions of people were
      insulted," he said. He personally had been insulted as well. "I'm
      absolutely prepared to call myself an injured party," he added.

      He suggested that, as punishment, the singers should "not be jailed but
      should be made to do the same inside a mosque in Mecca or at the Wailing
      Wall, and then they should be helped to take shelter inside the
      Cathedral of Christ the Savior from pious Muslims or Orthodox Jews.

      "We are convinced," the letter said in part, "that Nadezhda
      Tolokonikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich must be
      released and that the criminal proceedings against them must be quashed
      or requalified as administrative proceedings."

      The signatories included Oleg Basilashvili, Liya Akhedzhakova, Chulpan
      Khamatova, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Dmitry Bertman, Andrei Zvyagintsev,
      Vladimir Mironov, and Nikolai Tsiskaridze.

      The Pussy Riot performance set off a powerful public backlash.

      Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich were arrested and charged with
      hooliganism. They have had their term of detention extended repeatedly.
      Their current term expires on July 24.

      Amnesty International has declared them prisoners of conscience.

      Even the Russian Orthodox Church has expressed disquiet at their
      remaining in jail. "Many are indignant that the investigation is taking
      too long, that they are being kept locked up for too long. But there's
      nothing the Church can do about this," Moscow Patriarchate spokesman
      deacon Alexander Volkov told reporters recently.
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