Russia

Russian Church Official: God Wants to Punish Pussy Riot, Not Us

Nevertheless, he encourages church and state growing closer.

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A top official in the Russian Orthodox church said on Tuesday that the trial of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot had been willed by God, and called on Russia to do away with its secular state.

Three members of Pussy Riot stand accused of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred following a February performance in Russia's main cathedral aimed at protesting against Vladimir Putin's return to the presidency.

"It was a sin against God and it is God that is judging it," Vsevolod Chaplin, a high-ranking priest who often acts as the church's spokesman, said. "And all Christians should know this."