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Finnish Professor Faces Charges for Pussy Riot-Style Stunt

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Criminal charges have been pressed against a Finnish university professor who attempted to imitate a “punk prayer” by the Russian feminist group Pussy Riot, a Finnish human right activist said on Wednesday.

Criminal charges have been pressed against a Finnish university professor who attempted to imitate a “punk prayer” by the Russian feminist group Pussy Riot, a Finnish human right activist said on Wednesday.

 

Teivo Teivanen, professor and head of the Political Science Department at the University of Helsinki, and a group of masked girls, was prevented from staging a protest rally and a performance near the Cathedral of Assumption in Helsinki.

 

He said on his Facebook page that he planned to show support for three Pussy Riot members who face jail terms on charges of hooliganism.

 

“A criminal case was launched under two articles of Finland’s Criminal Code: infringement on religion’s inviolability and hindering religious rites,” said human right activist Johan Baeckman, who was among a group of public figures who initiated the case.

 

Finnish laws ban any attempt to hinder religious rites, as well as to wear masks in public places or organize unauthorized public events.

 

Decisions on whether a religion-related crime case should or should not be opened are made by the Finnish Prosecutor General's Office. The charges that might be brought against Teivanen entail a maximum punishment of two years in prison.

 

Three members of Pussy Riot - Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, - were detained after performing a song in Moscow’s largest cathedral in late February against what they said was church support for Vladimir Putin’s presidential election campaign.

 

The three women have been charged with hooliganism as part of an organized group and could face up to seven years in jail. A court is due to announce its verdict on their case on Friday.

 

International supporters of the group have also staged a similar protest at a Russian Orthodox church in Vienna.

 

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