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​Pussy Riot Indictment Posted

Настоящий материал (информация) произведен и (или) распространен иностранным агентом РОО Центр «Сова» либо касается деятельности иностранного агента РОО Центр «Сова».
On June 5, Mark Feigin, counsel to Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, posted on his blog that Russian authorities decided on May 28 to prosecute his client under Part 2 of Article 213 of the Criminal Code (hooliganism committed by a group of persons by prior conspiracy of hate) over her alleged participation in Pussy Riot's punk prayer at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. The indictment includes troubling passages that seem to be in direct conflict with elements of the Russian Constitution.

According to the text of the preliminary indictment, Tolokonnikova stands accused not only of being motivated by religious hatred, but also the hatred of a specific social group: Orthodox believers. 

We emphasize once again our position that the prosecution of Pussy Riot on criminal charges is an illegitimate use of Russian law. Sova does not see in the actions of the punk prayer's participants any demonstration of religious hatred, that is, neither of hatred towards the Russian Orthodoxy or its adherents. The authors of the song played at the punk prayer at most delivered a strongly-worded but personal criticism of Patriarch Kirill for his support of the sitting Russian government. However, the song not only does not contain calls to violence against the Orthodox Church, but also lacks any criticism of the religion itself or its believers. 

As an alternative, the behavior demonstrated in the punk prayer would qualify its participants for legal prosecution under Part 2 of Article 5.26 of the Administrative Code (insulting citizens' religious sensibilities, or the desecration of venerated objects, signs and ideologically symbolic emblems).

We would like to draw special attention to the text of the indictment itself. One would assume that a ruling decree on the accused would be included among the case's legal documents, and as such must be based on legal arguments contained in Russian legislation. However, the charges against Tolokonnikova clearly do not comply with Article 14 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which establishes a secular state. As such, deliberating on religious matters is outside the competence of the court. Nevertheless, the indictment accuses the defendants of "opposing themselves to the Orthodox world," as well as "neglect of the religious rules of behavior" through their "humiliation of religious landmarks of Orthodox faithful citizens." The indictment goes on to state that Pussy Riot demonstrated "contempt of society" through its "opposition to the Orthodox Church itself in society," and caused "significant damage to the sacred values ​​of Christian ministry," by "infringing on the sacramental mystery of the church," and humiliating in a "blasphemous manner the centuries-old principles and basic guidelines" of the Russian Orthodox Church. 

The construction of a criminal case on such decidedly non-secular arguments shows only a complete lack of professionalism in the investigation.

Feigin's post follows news the previous day that certain case materials were isolated in a separate proceeding, allowing the Investigative Committee to probe for anything that would qualify Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Tolokonnikova for charges under Article 282 of the Criminal Code (inciting hatred or enmity, as well as the humiliation of human dignity). 

Sova finds it important to note that charges under Article 282 may not be filed in addition to the present charges relating to the punk prayer, as Russian law prohibits condemnation of the same act twice under separate articles of the Criminal Code. However, each of the defendants may be charged for other actions linked to the punk prayer, as may other individuals for supporting the group.

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