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Pussy Riot 'punk prayer' video banned in Russia

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - 29 November 2012 - A Moscow court yesterday banned internet videos of Pussy Riot, including the 'punk prayer' for so-called 'extremism,' six weeks after Pussy Riot members were convicted to two years in a remote prison colony.

"The Russian state is trying to wipe Pussy Riot and their criticism from the record. Yesterday's decision by the Moscow Zamoskvoretsky District Court to ban on the basis of 'extremism' video material of the 'punk prayer' carried out in Moscow's Christ the Saviour's Cathedral by Pussy Riot violates the right to freedom of expression and shows the continued failure of the Russian justice system to protect political and artistic dissent," said Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

"The Russian government is trying to hide its attacks on democracy, claiming that the punk prayer which mocks the corrupt relationship between Putin and the church's patriarch is an attack on religious believers," she added.

This decision takes the censoring of critical political voices one step further by moving into the internet realm. The Russian authorities continue to limit free expression to appease certain groups in society, in this case the Russian Orthodox Church, by silencing those voices deemed to be provocative and offensive."

On 29 November 2012, Zamoskvoretsky District Court in Moscow held that the video material of Pussy Riot, including their 'punk prayer' on 21 February 2012 contains 'extremism' and should be removed from several internet resources, such as LiveJournal and YouTube.

At the court hearing the prosecution reportedly stated that the "existence of this material in the public domain could lead to inter-religious hatred and infringes upon the rights of an unidentified group of individuals."

Allegedly without watching the videos, but using descriptions and pictures, the court agreed with the prosecution, which had initiated the case following a complaint by a member of the State Duma, Alexander Starovoitov, who reportedly considers the video material offends the feelings of millions of believers and negatively influences on public morality and equality, and that its viewing leads to negative consequences.

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