On Saturday, Pastafarians took the streets of Moscow. What resulted was a surreal mix of religious food fights and police action.
Pastafarians, tongue-in-cheek worshipers of a Flying Spaghetti Monster, held a march on Saturday. The activists were inspired after submitting a recent appeal to be recognized as a legitimate religion in Russia. The church's website states:
To celebrate the creation of the first religious group of the Pastafarian Church of Russia, the bishops, lay people and followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are invited to walk through the main streets and squares of the cities and villages of joyful praise for spaghetti and meatballs.
Russian authorities did not respond so jovially to the religious procession. According to RIA-Novosti, a Russian government-funded news organization, "eight 'Pastafarians' were detained for "attempting to hold an unsanctioned rally."
Utro, another Russian news source, explains that authorities stepped at the behest of Orthodox protesters, "who think that the glorification of the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster offends their religious feelings." Utro also explains that Russia's recent "anti-Gay" law criminalizes behavior that disrespects religion with a penalty of up to three years in prison.
"We were detained for simply walking," contended an unnamed Pastafarian. "In particular, I was taken in for wearing a sieve on my head."
An edited video of the event was posted on YouTube by Grani-TV, a subsidiary of the Moscow Times, an English-language daily paper. Pastafarians are seen marching through a park while clad in noodles and colanders. The video cuts back and forth to scenes of police officers grabbing the marchers. At one points, an officer chases a protester across a street and approximately a dozen other officers leap over a fence to intervene. One moment shows an Orthodox protester spraying a man with ketchup.
Six of the activists were released shortly after the altercation, but two remained in detention, according to OVD-Info, a Russian site that monitors the detainment of individuals at political rallies. The site states that a public event violation holds a fine up to 30,000 rubles, or $910.
Pastafarians in St. Petersburg intended to also hold a celebratory procession on Saturday, writes RIA-Novosti. However, after the Moscow event was dispersed, the Pastafarians plan to coordinate with authorities and stage a march in September.