Police Open Criminal Probe into ‘Punk Prayer’ at Christ the Savior Cathedral

Police have opened a criminal probe into the performance of a protest song by notorious female group Pussy Riot at the altar of Moscow’s largest cathedral, the police said on its website on Sunday.

“A criminal case has been opened against the girls who shouted insults at believers and churchmen at the Christ the Savior Cathedral,” the website said.

On Tuesday, four members of Pussy Riot, clad in bright balaclavas, performed an acapella version of what they said was a “punk prayer” entitled “Holy Sh*t.” The lyrics included lines such as “Holy Mother, Blessed Virgin, chase Putin out!”

The punk protest at the Christ the Savior Cathedral came with less than a week to go before presidential elections in which Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will seek to return to the Kremlin for a third term. Although Putin is widely expected to triumph at the March 4 polls, his bid comes amid the largest show of dissent since he first came to power in 2000.

The group was briefly detained after their performance, which took place in the presence of several worshippers. And on Wednesday, the rector of an Orthodox school in Moscow asked state prosecutors to bring charges of inciting religious hatred against the group. The charge carries a maximum jail term of three years.

Pussy Riot first hit the headlines in January, when they raced through a musical diatribe against Putin on a snowy Red Square, calling for “Revolt in Russia!” and chanting “Putin’s got scared” before being detained by police.

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