God expects the all-female group Pussy Riot to repent for their anti-Putin “punk prayer” in Moscow’s largest cathedral, a leading Russian Orthodox official has said.
“They are no longer Orthodox Christians,” Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said during a talk show on the website of the Snob magazine. “God has already judged them and is now waiting for their repentance.”
Five members of Pussy Riot, clad in brightly-colored balaclavas, performed an acapella version of what they said was a “punk prayer” entitled “Holy Sh*t at the altar of the Christ the Savior Cathedral in downtown Moscow on February 21. The lyrics included lines such as “Holy Mother, Blessed Virgin, chase Putin out!”
The group said the performance was a protest against powerful Orthodox Church head Patriarch Kirill’s support for Vladimir Putin in the run-up to the March 4 presidential elections. The performance came amid the biggest demonstrations against Putin’s rule since he first came to power in 2000.
Three alleged members of the group have since been detained and could face up to seven years behind bars if found guilty of hooliganism charges. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina have been remanded in custody until April 24.
A third suspected member, Irina Lokteva, was arrested last week and a judge will decide on Friday if she will also remain in custody until her trial. All the women have small children.
Chaplin, who oversees relations between Russia’s influential Orthodox Church and society, also said that he was ready to visit the group in custody.
“The Church does not want to destroy its enemies, but change the sinners for the better,” added Chaplin.
A number of religious figures, including Chaplain, have said the women should not be imprisoned.
“Putin is behind the repression of Pussy Riot, not believers or the Orthodox Church,” an at-liberty masked member of Pussy Riot said on the Snob show, which was hosted by socialite turned opposition activist Ksenia Sobchak. “He was scared by the Russian uprising.”
Another group member denied the performance was of an anti-religious nature. “We respect all religions, including Orthodox Christianity,” she said.