MARCH 2 2012 20:29h
Higher fines sought for offending beliefs in Russia
Under a bill proposed by United Russia Party member Alexander Sidyakin, fines for offending religious beliefs or desecration of holy objects or symbols would be increased from the current $17-$34 to $170-$340, RIA Novosti reported.
Sidyakin said current fines are "insignificant and cannot serve as a deterrent against offending religious feelings."
He said the bill came in response to a stunt by the feminist group Pussy Riot in downtown Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral.
Five masked members of the female group stormed the church to perform a "punk prayer" criticizing what it called the church's links to the Kremlin.
After the incident, Vsevolod Chaplin, a church spokesman, demanded blasphemy be made a criminal offense.
City police opened a case against the group on charges of hooliganism, which carries a sentence of up to seven years in prison.
MOSCOW, March 2 (UPI) -- A Russian lawmaker has proposed a ten-fold increase in fines and up to 15 days' administrative arrest for insulting religious beliefs.