Ilves: Staging Protests in Church Unacceptable
Toomas Hendrik Ilves ( Photo: Postimees/Scanpix )
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said that he never condoned the Russian band's choice of a church as an arena for their political protest.
Severely criticized by Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church Andres Põder in a letter to clergy, for lending public support to the Russian punk group Pussy Riot's "barbarian attack" against the Russian Orthodox Church by his presence at a Tallinn concert, the president said, through spokesman Toomas Sildam, that he does consider the choice of a house of worship as the stage for the band's political protest unacceptable.
However, the head of state told ERR, the lengthy detainment of young women and mothers as well as threatening them with imprisonment for up to 7 years are unproportionally harsh repressions in response to hooliganism in a house of worship and can be seen as a warning to everybody who may wish to criticize the actions of Russian authorities.
"The whole history of artistic self-expression can be viewed in terms of a conflict between power and the spirit, and it is through the reaction of power to the occasionally provocative manifestations of the spirit that the level of freedom in a society can be gauged. The church may be - but in a free society, must not be - a convenient tool for the authorities," Ilves said.