Russian Orthodox Church addresses court decision recognizing Pussy Riot videos as "extremist material"

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for Relations between the Church and Society has hailed the decision made by the Moscow Zamoskvoretsky Court recognizing the video of the Pussy Riot "punk prayer" in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior as extremist material.

"There are no grounds not to respect this court decision. Many such tests and videos have been put on the federal list of extremist materials, and the decision to put this video on this list is quite appropriate," Father Vsevolod told Interfax-Religion on Thursday.

The priest recalled that the Pussy Riot women are saying in the video that parishioners "are crawling to bow" and reiterated that "they are doing nothing of the sort." Chaplin also said God's name in the video is said in combination with an obscene word, and the "performers" also use a different obscene word to insult the patriarch.

"Texts that were even less insulting and hostile towards other religious groups have been recognized as extremist materials before" and therefore this decision "is well in line with the current law enforcement practice," Chaplin said.

"If this law is adopted, it should protect the interests of the minority and the majority, it should exercise justice and be effective in all cases when insulting and hostile words are said about a specific group of people and concepts, symbols, and persons that are important to them," Chaplin said.

Zamoskvoretsky Court press officer Yevgeniya Pazukhina told Internet user access to these videos will be restricted on five sites.

She added that Yekaterina Samutsevich, a member of the punk group Pussy Riot, would not be able to contest the court decision.

"A month is allowed to file an appeal against the decision made by Justice Marina Musimovich, who has found the Pussy Riot videos to be extremist material. However, an appeal can only be filed by participants in the legal proceedings, which are the prosecutors and the Justice Ministry," Pazukhina said.

For this reason, Samutsevich, whom the court earlier declined to recognize as an interested party, cannot file an appeal.

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