The Moscow News
by Andrew Roth, RussiaProfile.org
For Russia’s Orthodox Christian community, the Pussy Riot debacle has transformed into a polarizing debate over the church’s place in society.
Few in the church supported the actual protest, where the group broke into Christ the Savior Cathedral, an iconic Moscow church, and performed a “punk prayer” singing “Holy Mother, Blessed Virgin… chase Putin out.”
But with a possible seven-year prison term for hooliganism looming over the trio of arrested group members and calls for extremism charges to be brought against them as well, conservatives and liberals are battling over what influence the Church should, or can, exert on the group’s future.
“There have been scandals and wide societal discussion about the Church in the past, but nothing like this, linking the Church and a very public investigation and courtroom proceeding,” said Ksenia Luchenko, the deputy editor of PravMir, a popular Web portal on Orthodox Christian life.
Officially, the Church does not have an official position on the case, but some high-ranking clergy, such as Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, have on at least one occasion called for the 20-something rockers to be prosecuted on extremism charges.
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