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Ukraine nationalist leader chides Pussy Riot's 'blasphemy'

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Aug. 23, 2012, 6:48 p.m. | Politics — by Interfax-Ukraine

Svoboda leader Oleh Tiahnybok
© www.svoboda.org.ua

The leader of a Ukrainian nationalist party has chided three convicted members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot for "blasphemy" and said activists from Ukrainian feminist group FEMEN had shown an "inappropriate" form of protest at the conviction by cutting down a memorial cross in the center of Kyiv.

"Being young doesn't give them the right to blaspheme," Svoboda leader Oleh Tiahnybok said during debates with students in Kyiv. "I'm a Christian. I get offended by things like that."

"Our girls [from FEMEN] used an inappropriate form of support for [Pussy Riot] by cutting down the cross," he said.

Tiahnybok said the Pussy Riot court case is an internal matter of Russia.

The three Pussy Riot musicians have been sentenced to two years in jail on "hooliganism" charges for a scandalous song in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior in February - a "punk prayer" in which they asked the Virgin Mary to "throw out" Vladimir Putin, who was then prime minister and running for president.

On August 17, the day the sentence was passed, FEMEN activists, using a chainsaw, took down the cross standing near the International Center for Culture and Arts (Zhovtnevy Palace). Ukrainian police qualified this as an act of "hooliganism," but no one has been arrested yet.

On August 18, activists from various opposition groups and nongovernmental organizations replaced the vandalized cross with a provisional one.

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