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    » 12/01/2012, 00.00

    RUSSIA

    Blasphemy law, Putin postpones adopting the legislation until spring



    In this way, according to the Russian press, the authorities want to involve public opinion to a greater extent and avoid conflicts on a very sensitive issue in the country. The text provides for up to five years in prison for desecrating a place of worship.

    Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has decided to postpone until next spring the adoption of the so-called "law against blasphemy and acts which offend religious sentiment." This was announced by Russian agencies, while a source of the newspaper Vedomosti said that, in this way, the authorities hope to achieve greater involvement of public opinion on the draft law, which has been criticized by human rights activists, but received the consensus of the Moscow Patriarchate and of the most influential minority communities.

    The document proposes penalties ranging from fines of up to 300,000 rubles (,000) to three years' imprisonment for "publicly insulting the faith and for humiliations during liturgical services." For desecrating and destroying religious objects, in places of worship and on pilgrimages, the fines range from 100,000 to 500,000 rubles, mandatory labor of up to 400 hours or up to five years in prison.

    The text was submitted to the Duma in late September, in the wake of the controversy raised by the case involving the Pussy Riot, the girls of the Russian feminist punk band sentenced to two years in prison for an anti-Putin performance, in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. During the trial, the prosecution relied on their having allegedly offended the feelings of the Orthodox faithful.

    In early November, at a meeting of the Council for Human Rights with Putin, some leading activists criticized the vague wording of the proposed law against blasphemy, which could result in many miscarriages of justice. "Feeling," Irina Khakamada explained to the head of the Kremlin, "is a vague term and not a legal one." The activist was echoed by the Supreme Court, which in a formal opinion warned that applying the law as formulated will be difficult if works like "worship" and "religious traditions" are not clarified.

    Supporters of stiffer penalties for blasphemy - including not only the Russian Orthodox Church but also Muslim leaders - argue that the law is needed to curb the growing conflicts within the society in the field of religion. According to a survey of the State institute Vtsiom, 82% of Russians are in favor of the legislative initiative, especially after a succession of acts of vandalism against religious symbols: from the defiling of icons, to crosses torn and broken in several areas of the country. "This broad consensus in society," said the head of the Synodal Department for Relations between State and Society, the Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, "is a clear sign that many were waiting for this initiative." (NA)

     

     

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    See also

    11/10/2012 RUSSIA
    Pussy Riot are separated, but vow protest will continue
    Appeal grants suspended sentence to one of the three activists. Confirmed the sentence of two years in a penal colony for the other two. The Church hopes that the freedom granted to one member will not lead to new blasphemous actions.

    08/08/2012 RUSSIA
    Verdict in Pussy Riot trial on 17 August, accused could get three years
    The trial of the female punk band charged with hooliganism and religious hatred for singing in church against Putin has divided Russian public opinion. Abroad, the group has instead received the solidarity of the world's musicians and political leaders.

    23/12/2013 RUSSIA
    Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina is freed
    Release of her collegue Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is also expected for today. From an unknown Punk band , they have become global stars, a symbol of Putin's crackdown on civil dissent. Freedom for Pussy Riot and Mikhalil Khodorkovsky serve to curb the boycott against the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

    15/03/2012 RUSSIA
    Pussy Riot case, Muslims invoke spiritual courts
    Other faiths are united in the orthodox condemnation of the exhibition punk girl group in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. Catholics invite dialogue and to avoid repression. On the street people ask why the Patriarch Kirill does not show forgiveness to the two arrested girls.

    07/01/2013 RUSSIA
    Kirill: Campaigns against the Russian Orthodox Church will not silence the Church
    The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia celebrates the night before Christmas in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, where Pussy Riot episode took place. For Kirill, despite opposition to the Church, "society has become more sensitive to the word of Christ." In 2013 marks 1025 years since the baptism of the Rus', "the beginning of a new era" in the life of the nation.



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