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article imageChurch wants mercy for Pussy Riot, if they repent

By Layne Weiss     Sep 30, 2012 in World
Moscow - The Russian Orthodox Church asked Sunday for clemency for the three jailed members of punk band Pussy Riot if they repent for their anti-Putin "punk prayer."
The band members were convicted on August 17 of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred," CSMonitor reports.
"The church sincerely wishes for the repentance of those who desecrated a holy place. Certainly would benefit their souls," said church spokesman, Vladimir Legoida in an official statement.
"If any words of the convicts indicate repentance, we would wish that they are not left unnoticed and those who violated the law get a chance to mend their ways," Legoida continued.
The Church's statement comes a day before an appeal hearing for the three women against their 2-year sentences, The AP reports.
After the three band members: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Aloykhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30 were convicted in August, the Church said they would support a reduced sentence only if the women admitted their guilt, but their lawyers have said they wouldn't do so, CSMonitor reports.
It remains unclear whether the women have any intentions to repent as the Church has requested, The AP reports, but that may not even matter.
Reuters reported Friday that there is very little hope that the three women will get their sentences cut.
"Such a decision is impossible," said defense attorney Mark Feigin. "The courts are not independent and to imagine them making a decision based on the law would be a fantasy."
Not everyone is as negative, as Mr. Feigin, however. Nikolai Polozov has almost no hope the sentence will be completely thrown out, but he remains hopeful it will at least be reduced, The Guardian reports. "To dream of the sentence being overthrown is too optimistic for the current Russian reality," Polozov said. "I very much hope it will be lessened a bit."
Russia's President Vladimir Putin has said he will not interfere in the judicial process, but Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has called for the trio to be released.
The trial caused an international outrage. Celebrities including legendary artists Paul McCartney and Madonna strongly condemned the court's decision to punish the women so harshly, CSMonitor reports.
The Free Pussy Riot website notes that Monday October 1 at 11 am, a Moscow court will hear the appeal of the jailed band members. The site also gives information on locations for global solidarity rallies in the fight for Pussy Riot's release.
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