09/17/2012, 00.00
RUSSIA

Crosses torn down and Pussy Riot slogans on a church in Georgia

by Nina Achmatova
Episodes of intolerance continue in the wake of sentencing of the Russian feminist punk band. Orthodox Church debate whether this is due to a anti-clerical campaign or break down in relationship with society.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Crosses torn down in Russia and graffiti on the walls of churches in Georgia. Anti-clerical acts continue to be carried out demanding the release of Pussy Riot, the feminist punk band whose three members were sentenced to two years in prison for having staged an anti-Putin performance in the Moscow cathedral. After four wood crosses cut and torn down in late August on the regions of Chelyabinsk and Arkhangelsk, two other crosses have been torn down in the district of Pervomaisk, Altai region, September 5. As reported by the religious information website, Portalcredo.ru, on September 10 an investigation was opened into acts of "hooliganism" (article 214 of the Criminal Code). According to investigators, those held responsible have already been identified.

Episodes of this kind have increased in Russia after August 17, the day of the conviction of Pussy Riot - guilty of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" . Ukrainian feminist group Femen protested against the verdict cutting a cross in Kiev with a chainsaw.

The phenomenon is not confined to Russia. In Tbilisi, Georgia, a group of citizens called on the authorities to shed light on writing that appeared on the outer walls of the Kashveti Orthodox Church in the center of the Georgian capital. According to reports from the site Pravmir.ru, close to the caricature of an icon "Free Pussy Riot" was written in large letters, the slogan of the international campaign in support of the Russian band.

 

Within the Russian Orthodox Church, the debate on the issue is tense: some argue that the acts represent a real campaign against faith, that first began after the arrival in Russia from Mount Athos of the relic of the belt of the Virgin last winter. The relic attracted more than two million pilgrims from across the country, frightening some circles who realized the strong appeal that Christianity still exerts on the Russian people, despite decades of persecution. Others, however, note that this is the time to address a critical issue and so far avoided by the Orthodox Church in Russia: that of its relationship with a secular society.

 

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