Editorial: Duma lights the fire
26.09.12 12:14 By Gazeta.ru editorial
It seems that MPs, as they usually do in Russia, have begun to retroactively legitimise their high-profile verdict against the punk band 'Pussy Riot,' which split Russian society into two groups and caused outrage internationally.
On September 25, all four parties represented in the Russian parliament accepted the State Duma's condemnation of abuse of religious shrines. And they do not want to stop at just condemning it.
The State Duma is preparing a bill to amend Russia's criminal code and other laws linked to religion and the church.
Today the parliament submitted a new bill requiring criminal liability for "insulting religious feelings of believers and desecration."
In particular, a punishment of up to 300 thousand rubles, 200 hours community service and up to 3 years in prison can be given for: public offences, humiliation of worship or other religious rites and associations, or violation of the religious beliefs and feelings of citizens. For desecrations of any kind the punishment will be from 100 to 500 thousand rubles, 400 hours of community service and up to 5 years in prison.
Earlier, Russian religious beliefs were protected by Russia's criminal code; article 143 "Violation of freedom of conscience and freedom of religion." The maximum possible punishment for this crime was up to three years in prison. In Soviet Union this article was used to fight dissidents.
It seems that the new bill might be used to fight those who oppose the current secular regime.
The Pussy Riot case shows exactly how a secular state, hiding under religious excuses, turns disorderly conduct into a reason for a political tribunal. And this State could care less about its reputation or image.
For many people the criminal prosecution of "blasphemy" and "desecration" has turned into something of a political inquisition.
Our government does not recognize anything has "holy" except its own self-defense, by any means necessary. The recent series of vandalism against the church has been mainly provoked by the state and the provokative behavior of church officials in Russia.
A secular democratic state, which Russia is according to its Constitution, is certainly obliged to defend the rights of believers and religious shrines of all confessions. But this protection is only a part of a wider definition of protecting rights and freedom of all Russian citizens.
No matter how Russian authorities try to deem the punk-prayer of Pussy Riot a simple sacrilegious act, it is absolutely clear that the women performed an anti-Putin act and that it was a pure anti-political performance.
The Russian Patriarch, Kirill, called Vladimir Putin "the ruler from God." Then Putin became president and did not try to stop the show trial against the three Pussy Riot members.
It seemed that "the ruler from God" tried to take revenge on the women for their act against him.
Russia does not have a problem with mass anti-religious vandalism. There is only a problem of power which is losing popularity. That's what makes a harmless law seem like an inquisition.
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