Priest Who Backed Pussy Riot Suspended in Russia
Russian feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L) and Maria Alyokhina (R) smile inside a glass cage in a court room after the trial at the Moscow City Court in Moscow, Russia, 10 October 2012. EPA/BGNES
A Russian priest who apologized for the actions of Orthodox activists against the Pussy Riot feminist punk group has been expelled from the Russian Orthodox Church.
However, a church spokesperson has claimed that the decision was "unrelated" to the priest's comments. The spokesperson, Father Nikolai Balashikhinsky, told RIA Novosti that Sverdlov's suspension was in "no way connected" to his statements on Pussy Riot.
Sverdlov sparked controversy when he apologized for the actions of Orthodox activists opposed to Pussy Riot in a March 18, 2012, article in the Orthodox Christianity and the World online publication.
"I would ask for forgiveness from the detained for the rabid hatred shown by a section of the Orthodox community over the events in Christ the Savior Cathedral," Sverdlov wrote.
Meanwhile, it was made clear that a Russian court has rejected a plea from a jailed member of Pussy Riot to have her prison term deferred until her young son reaches adolescence.
Maria Alyokhina, 24, mother of five-year-old Filipp, had asked for her two-year sentence to be delayed until her son turns 14, as allowed under Russian law.
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