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You're reading: Poll: Most Russians against prison sentence for Pussy Riot

 Moscow - Most Russians (79%) are more or less aware of the punk prayer performed by the Pussy Riot band at Christ the Savior Cathedral in February 2012, and more than a third of them believe that the band members broke the moral rules, sociologists from the Levada Center told Interfax.

Almost half of respondents (53%) believe that citizens have the right
to public protest against the Russian Orthodox Church’s position on
major social issues and criticize it but not in churches, according to
the findings of a poll conducted among 1,600 people on July 20-23.

More than a third of respondents (38%) said that by staging the
anti-Putin performance at Christ the Savior Cathedral, the Pussy Riot
members rather violated the public moral rules than insulted the
president (9%).

Most respondents said that the protest was aimed against the church
and believers (19%), against the church’s involvement in politics (17%),
and 15% think President Putin was the main target. Sixteen percent of
respondents agreed with all three assertions.

Meanwhile, almost half of the respondents (43%) consider a penalty of
two to seven years of imprisonment to be disproportionate, and the
number of such people has risen by 11% over the past four months
(against 32% in April). As an alternative, respondents suggested
compulsory work (24%), a fine (16%) or an arrest for less than two years
(8%). Four percent suggested not punishing them at all.

As regards the petition signed by more than a hundred people from the
culture and arts industry in defense of the arrested punk band members,
the respondents’ answers varied: 24% support it, 26% do not. The rest
could not say anything about it.

Opinions also diverged on what the church should do in the situation
around Pussy Riot: the majority (32%) believes that it must not pressure
the court, while 24% on the contrary expect the Russian Orthodox Church
to demonstrate Christian mercy. Yet another 17% understand the church’s
indignation and demand for the young women to be harshly punished.

On February 21, 2012, several Pussy Riot girls wearing masks appeared
in Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. They climbed up the pulpit
and staged a punk concert. The action triggered a huge outcry.

A criminal case on hooliganism charges was opened. The girls were detained.

Rights defenders hold that the maximum the girls deserve for their
minor hooliganism is administrative punishment. Amnesty International
declared the Pussy Riot detainees prisoners of conscience.

Earlier, all three girls were remanded in custody until January 12,
2013, during a closed-door hearing at Moscow’s Khamovnichesky Court.

The next hearing is due on July 30.

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