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08:07 GMT +3 hours23 December 2014
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Russia

Church Calls for Court Leniency, if Pussy Riot Punkers Repent

Russia
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The Russian Orthodox Church believes repentance will “benefit the souls” of Pussy Riot feminist punkers and a Moscow court that will hear an appeal against their jail term should respond to this act, the Church said on Sunday.

The Russian Orthodox Church believes repentance will “benefit the souls” of Pussy Riot feminist punkers and a Moscow court that will hear an appeal against their jail term should respond to this act, the Church said on Sunday.

Three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in prison in August after being convicted of hooliganism in Moscow’s largest cathedral and inciting religious hatred. The Moscow City Court is scheduled to hear an appeal against Pussy Riot’s prison sentence on October 1.

All the three feminist punk group members will be present at the court’s hearing.

“Let us repeat again, acts like this insulting the feelings of believers must be condemned and punished, no matter what arguments may be used to justify them. This position is shared by an overwhelming majority of our citizens,” Vladimir Legoida, head of the Synodal Information Department, said in a statement ahead of the court’s sitting to hear the Pussy Riot cassation appeal.

At the same time, the Russian Orthodox Church sincerely wishes “those who desecrated a holy place” should repent because “this will benefit their souls,” he said.

“Considering that the aim of punishment is correction, some words by the offenders of the law evidencing their repentance and rethinking of what their have done should be heard and they should get a chance to embark upon the path of correction,” the statement said.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, were convicted for staging an anti-Kremlin “punk prayer” in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in central Moscow in February.

The feminist punkers urged "Mother Mary" to "drive Putin out." The court ruled that the performance hurt the feelings of Orthodox believers, but the group said the "punk prayer" was a political act and was a response to Orthodox Church support for Vladimir Putin ahead of his March 4 presidential election victory.