Russians have indeed split into two camps. The apologies the three young women made to all the believers whose feelings were insulted by their punk prayer that took place in the country's main cathedral did not cool down the wild passions around the case. In his interview to The Guardian, Father Vsevolod Chaplin said that the apologies did not change anything and blamed the West for attempting to divide Russian society.
There are few people left who feel indifferent towards Pussy Riot. A poll taken by the sociology research group Levada Center right before the beginning of the trial showed that over the last month the number of those who have not heard about the case has dropped by half. Currently, only about 21% of those polled have no knowledge of the case. The decision to broadcast the court hearings, which was unprecedented in Russian court history, was related primarily to the high profile of the trial.
Now the young women are charged with hooliganism. Such criminal charges can carry punishment of two to seven years in prison. Few people in either camp believe that they are being tried as hooligans. Of the Levada respondents, 32% believe that the women are being prosecuted for blasphemy and for insulting churchgoers' feelings, almost 13% believe that they are on trial for the calls to throw Putin away, and 6% think it is for both counts.
Radically-minded churchgoers demand that the blasphemy be harshly punished. The appeal of the Highest Church Council of the Russian Orthodox Church made in April 2012 calls on believers to unite in fighting the “anticlerical forces”. At the same time, the number of those who oppose the harsh measures is rising. Only one third of Russians believe that the prison term the women are facing is adequate punishment, as opposed to 46% in March 2012. Forty-three percent believe the punishment to be excessive – as opposed to 35% in March 2012 – and 15% are against any punishment for such violations.
Right after the punk prayer in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, it was primarily human rights activists and the opposition who publicly supported Pussy Riot. Back in March the famous journalist Julia Latynina noticed that the Russian Church does not follow the Christian principle of forgiveness and said that the criminal prosecution of the women was conducted on Vladimir Putin’s personal instructions.
Then, many famous Russian figures started to speak out against that criminal prosecution. Two hundred and three representatives of Russia's intellectuals, including Boris Strugatsky, actress and prominent public activist Chulpan Khamatova, and musician Andrey Makarevich signed an open letter calling for the release of the band members. Recently, a representative of the United Russia ruling party Valery Fedotov spoke against the prosecution.
At the same time, Russian Orthodox literary figures also published an open letter this time in support of the prosecution. Valentin Rasputin and Valery Khatyushin are among those who signed it.
However, despite the predictions of Marat Gelman – a gallery owner and political analyst whom the opponents of Pussy Riot blame for being the instigator of the Church abusers – the Russian attitude to the Russian Orthodox Church has changed little. Gelman stated that the criminal prosecution for the punk prayer would lead to the rise of anti-clerical mood and a more critical attitude towards the Church hierarchy. However, according to the Levada Center polls, 70% of the respondents claim that their attitude to the Church has not changed. Only 5% claim that they now have a much worse attitude towards it. At the same time, 30% of the respondents believe that the Russian Orthodox Church should show Christian mercy and appeal to authorities with a request to free the Pussy Riot members.
The Information about an explosive device, allegedly laid in the building of the Khamovniki court in Moscow, where the case of the participants of the Pussy Riot punk band is being heard, was not confirmed.
Now all the visitors are invited back to the building.
It is expected, that the hearings on the Pussy Riot case will soon resume.
Thursday morning all visitors and employees were evacuated from the building after the phone call of a telephone terrorist, all the rooms were examined by the police.