All-Russia Public Movement
Moscow’s Tagansky district Court ruled to have jailed for 50 days 22 y.o. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and 23 y.o. Maria Alyohkhina. Both women have small children. The court has declined the appeals to bail out the arrested women. In protest the arrested launched hunger-strike. The whole charge is solely a suspicion in participating in the performance by the music-band “Pussy Riot” in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior on 21 February 2012.
The performance was stylized as an Orthodox Prayer. This caused controversial reactions in secular and clerical communities: some considered it blasphemy, some - conforming to the folk traditions of carnival-like performances, while others expressed that the modern world is well familiarized with rock-remixes of prayers. In any case, in the Russian Federation, there is no any kind of legal prohibition for performing non-canonical prayers in the church.
There was no offence towards the visitors of the church and no offence toward the Orthodox Church or Christianity. Plenum of Russian Supreme Court, on 4 July 2011, separated the critique towards religious institutions from expressions of extremisms. Thus, strictly following the rule of the law of Russia, there can be even a question about any criminal charges. In substance, the arrested women are incriminated with blasphemy, which reverse the judicial system of Russia as far as 95 years back. What testifies to this is the very public statements made by the official representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, for example, Vsevolod Chaplin, who related the release of the detained women with religious redemption, even though, the Church itself in this case, was not in any way a victim.
It is the first precedent of that kind in Russia, when a criminal case is open and someone becomes arrested on the grounds of blasphemy. Before, the same sort of cases were limited to administrative fines. Based on the above precedent, the last barrier was removed on the way to turning Russia into a clerical state, where contradicting church politics equals with criminal action. In the above case, the investigation, litigation and prosecution measures are used to attack the very foundations of constitutional governance, that guarantees secular and non-ideology-based character of the state.
The arrest indicates the merging of Church and State and transforming the judicial system into the Orthodox Inquisition is taking place.
We demand the immediate release of the arrested women and immediate termination of all criminal charges initiated against them.
We consider the arrested Maria Alyohkhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova Prisoners of Conscience, who are persecuted for their beliefs, and we call international organizations to recognize them in such status. We call for launching public campaign in their defense, as a matter of securing Russia’s return to the norms democratic judiciary-based state.
Ludmilla Alexeeva, Chairwoman, Moscow Helsinki group
Valery Borshchev, member, Moscow Helsinki group
Lev Ponomarev, All-Russia Public Movement «For human rights»
Svetlana Gannushkina, Chairwoman, Committee for civil assistance
Sergey Sorokin, judicial expert,
Yuri Ryzhov, academician, Russian Academy of Sciences
Andrei Piontkovsky, writer
Alexey Kondaurov, Bureau member, National assembly of the RF
Yuri Djibladze, president, Center for the development of democracy and human rights
and many others
letter can be signed here: http://zaprava.ru/index.php?option=com_petitions&view=petition&id=124