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Russian Patriarch Supports Prosecution For Blasphemy

2/4/2013 6:10 AM ET

Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill is in support of the idea of criminal prosecution for blasphemy similar the performance of the female punk band 'Pussy Riot' in Moscow's main cathedral.

"The law must protect not only symbols of secular importance, but also objects with sacred meaning for the believers and guard their religious feelings from insults," Kirill was quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency as telling a conclave of the Orthodox clergy in the Russian capital on Saturday.

Three young women of the Pussy Riot were convicted in August last for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" after they staged an anti-Kremlin "punk prayer" at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral, Russia's main Orthodox cathedral an year ago. One of them got a suspended two-year sentence, while the rest were sentenced to two years in prison. The punishment had drawn worldwide condemnation, especially from rights groups. None of the women pleaded guilty.

In his remarks Kirill once again defended the court's verdict, saying that forgiveness was possible only when it came with repentance. Otherwise, more crimes would follow, he added.

A series of vandalism attacks carried out against the Church last year, including painted offensive notes on cathedrals and several chain-sawed crosses across the country, prompted Russian lawmakers to initiate a bill seeking criminal prosecution for wrongdoings that insult religious feelings. The bill was shelved last month amid criticism from rights campaigners.

by RTT Staff Writer

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