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February 21, 2013

2 Arrested at Russian Cathedral Marking Pussy Riot Stunt

by VOA News

Two women trying to mark the one-year anniversary of the Pussy Riot performance at a Moscow cathedral have been detained by police.

Mobile phone video shows the women, identified as Yelena Volkova and Irina Karatsuba, placing flowers inside the Christ the Saviour Cathedral when police rush in and take them away.

Before entering the cathedral, Volkova praised Pussy Riot's protest, which landed two band members in jail.

"We think that it was in its own way an act of bravery by the girls who came here and told the Church about how low the Church had fallen and what exactly it should do to be the real Church - to serve God and not the state, and to care about the people and not about money and its own power," she said. "So we came here because the girls have suffered despite being completely innocent.  They are now in prison."

Pussy Riot performed what it called a punk prayer at the cathedral last year to highlight what they saw as an inappropriate relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the government.

All three ban members were arrested and sentenced for hooliganism but Yekaterina Samutsevich was later released.

She said Thursday she would do it all again.

"No, of course I do not regret the performance.  I only regret the fact that we were convicted because it is of course terribly unjust, and I am very annoyed by this," she said. " But this is the fault of the state authorities because they instituted the criminal case, so all the complaints should be addressed to them."

Samutsevich also says she believes the performance has made a difference.

"The situation in Russia has changed. Firstly, a lot of people learnt about the issue; in particular those who had previously paid no attention to the problems of society, to the Russian Orthodox Church, Putin and Patriarch Kirill," she said. "They learnt about this and saw a huge amount of information on the Internet and on television.  They also saw the trial and us sitting in the aquarium [glass cage] and saw how unjust the whole process was."

The two other band members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina, are set to be released from prison next March.