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Pussy Riot: 'We are not enemies of Christianity'

Pussy Riot: 'We are not enemies of Christianity'

One of the imprisoned members of Pussy Riot has spoken out about their case, claiming they are not "enemies of Christianity".

Nadia Tolokonikovoy is one of three members of the Russian punk collective who have been in detention since their arrest in March following an impromptu gig at Moscow's Christ The Saviour Cathedral. The band sang a song called "Holy Shit" as a protest against the Orthodox Christian church's support for Russian president Vladimir Putin. The three women face up to seven years in jail on hooliganism charges.

"Pussy Riot never means to show any disrespect to any viewers or witnesses of our punk concerts," Tolokonikovoy wrote in an essay published on Free Pussy Riot. "The themes of our songs and performances are dictated by the present moment. We simply react to what is happening in our country, and our punk performances express the opinion of a sufficiently large number of people. In our song 'Hail Mary, Expel Putin' we reflected the reaction of many Russian citizens to the patriarch’s calls for vote for Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin during the presidential election of 4 March 2012."

She added: "We are not enemies of Christianity. We care about the opinion of Orthodox Christians. We want all of them to be on our side – on the side of anti-authoritarian civil society activists. That is why we came to the Cathedral."

Tolokonikovoy also said that their protest was not meant to insult Christians, but was a specific response to Putin's re-election. "Our performance contained no aggression towards the audience, but only a desperate desire to change the political situation in Russia for the better," she added.

Yesterday, one of the lawyers representing Pussy Riot said that their criminal trial is one of "the most shameful" in modern Russian history. Nikolai Polozov criticised the way the punk group have been treated by the Russian justice system and insisted that the courts were more honest "even in Stalin's times".

A host of musicians have joined ranks to support Pussy Riot, with Johnny Marr, Alex Kapranos, Kate Nash and many other artists signed a letter calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to release the three detained members of the band. Putin himself, meanwhile, claimed earlier this week (August 3) that the three detainees should not be judged too severely for their actions.

Shortly before their arrest, members of Pussy Riot spoke to NME, calling Putin's reaction to their church protest "childish". "We knew what the political situation was but now we're personally feeling the full force of Putin's Kafka-esque machine," they said. "The state's policy is based on a minimum of critical thinking and on a maximum of spite, and a desire to get even with those who don't please it."

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