Patriarch refrains from comments pending judgment on Pussy Riot
MOSCOW, June 29 - RAPSI. Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus Kirill has declined to comment on the situation regarding the Pussy Riot female punk group and its provocative actions in a Moscow cathedral before the court passes its judgment, said head of the patriarch's press service Alexander Volkov.
The group of five masked women performed a protest song titled, "Holy Sh*t," at the altar of the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. The lyrics included lines such as, "Holy Mother, Blessed Virgin, Chase Putin Out!"
Pussy Riot said their performance was a reaction to Orthodox Church head's backing of then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's election bid. Putin won by a landslide and the patriarch called Putin's 12 years of rule "a miracle of God" at a televised meeting.
Group members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested. They have been accused of disorderly conduct and face up to seven years in prison.
On June 20 the Moscow Tagansky District Court extended the arrest of the Pussy Riot members.
More than 100 Russian artists and authors published open letters in support of Pussy Riot and appealed to the patriarch on many occasions to pardon the women.
"Naturally, the patriarch is well aware of the appeals... We are asking everybody to be patient because any formal statement of opinion on the conduct of those young women is out of the question before the court passes its judgment," said Volkov.
Otherwise, he added, the patriarch's interference would be regarded as putting pressure on the investigation. He has officially denied media rumors that the church had a say in opening the criminal case against Pussy Riot.
"It would be absurd to think that Patriarch Kirill, or any of his representatives, called the Interior Ministry, the prosecutor, or anybody else to demand punishment for this act, this prank. This is absurd. No such thing happened, nor did anyone have the slightest idea to do so, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill above all," Volkov reiterated.