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21:14 GMT +3 hours19 December 2014
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Playing with Religion in Russia Dangerous - Putin Spokesman

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Playing with people’s religious feelings in Russia is dangerous, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said while commenting on the case of female punk group Pussy Riot.

Playing with people’s religious feelings in Russia is dangerous, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said while commenting on the case of female punk group Pussy Riot.

“Playing with nationalities, playing with religion in this country is the same as smoking at a filling station,” Peskov told the Dozhd TV channel on Thursday.

An edited clip of Pussy Riot’s protest posted online showed the group alternately high-kicking and crossing themselves near the entrance to the altar of the Christ the Savior Cathedral, accompanying the “Holy S**t” song urging the Virgin Mary to “drive Putin out.” The song contained words insulting to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and to believers.

Three band members were found guilty of hooliganism and jailed for two years each on August 17. This attracted both media attention and international criticism, which Moscow dismissed as "groundless" saying the band's act was not an issue of artistic performance but was "insulting to millions of Orthodox [Christian] believers."

“I most probably belong to the part of society that is genuinely indignant and believes such deeds should be punished very harshly,” Peskov said.