“In this trial, authorities, not the girls, have dealt a crushing blow on the Russian Orthodox Church,” Volkova said. “Time has turned back _ back to the Middle Ages.”
The trial has sharply divided Russia. Some believers felt insulted by the act, while others believe they are innocents who are being treated unfairly.
Mark Feygin, a lawyer for the band, argued that a guilty verdict would “break a bond between the government and people for good” and that “society will never forgive the state for persecuting the innocent.”
Orthodox leaders have ignored calls by many believers to pardon the women and urge the court to dismiss the case.
Archdeacon Andrei Kurayev, an influential Orthodox blogger and Professor of the Moscow Theological Academy, warned in an interview with the RIA Novosti news agency on Tuesday that jail time for the three would “turn them into martyrs” and would only feed hostility toward the Church.
Meanwhile, Russian Internet users were fuming over a video of Putin visiting a northern Russian monastery on Monday where a priest kneeled down to kiss his hand.
The church said that the priest was from Macedonia, where it’s not unusual for men of the cloth to kiss the hands of laymen as a sign of humility.
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