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07:57 GMT +3 hours22 December 2014
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‘Morality Coalition’ Slams Pussy Riot Nomination

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A Russian Morality Coalition on Wednesday protested the European Parliament’s decision to nominate three jailed members of the punk group Pussy Riot for the Andrei Sakharov human rights award.

A Russian Morality Coalition on Wednesday protested the European Parliament’s decision to nominate three jailed members of the punk group Pussy Riot for the Andrei Sakharov human rights award.

“We would like to note that the Pussy Riot members received two-year prison sentences not over freedom-of-thought issues but for attempting to organize a provocation in the Christ the Savior Cathedral that offended believers,” the hitherto-unknown Coalition said in a letter to the European Parliament.

It also said the coalition was outraged by the European Parliament’s selective approach in the case of Pussy Riot and the "Innocence of Muslim" film.

“When 'Innocence of Muslims' came out they said it was hatred and blasphemy. We don’t like it that the European Parliament has double standards: it's immoral with regard to Muslims but it’s okay with regard to Christians.”

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Ekaterina Samutsevich, who were sentenced last month to two years in prison for their "punk prayer" in Moscow's Christ the Savior cathedral in February, were nominated by German MP Werner Schulz for the For Freedom of Thought award, otherwise known as the Sakharov Prize.

Other nominees include Belarusian human rights activist Ales Bialiatski, as well as imprisoned members of the opposition in Rwanda and Iran.

The winner will be chosen in December in Strasbourg.

The Sakharov Prize, which comes with a 50,000 euro award, is given to individuals and organizations who have made a special contribution to the protection of human rights.

Soviet dissident Anatoly Marchenko, who died in prison in 1986, and Nelson Mandela were the first to be awarded the prize in 1988.