Helsinki, August 15 (Interfax) - A number of prominent public and culture figures and human rights activists in Finland have filed suit with the Helsinki police against Teivo Teivainen, a professor of the University of Helsinki, for an attempt to replay a stunt of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot near the Orthodox Assumption Cathedral in Helsinki.
"A criminal case has been initiated under two Finnish Criminal Code articles concerning the violation of religious tolerance rules," Johan Backman, a prominent Finnish human rights activist and an adjunct professor of the University of Helsinki, told Interfax on Wednesday.
"The Finnish Criminal Code bans even an attempt to obstruct a religious service (Article 17-11) and any kind of humiliation of another person's faith in writing or in other forms (17-10). Wearing a mask at a public place and unsanctioned rallies are also prohibited. It is necessary to notify police beforehand in Finland," Backman said.
"Teivainen's punishment now depends on the Finnish Prosecutor General's Office, which makes decisions on pressing charges on anti-religious crimes. If the Prosecutor General's Office presses charges against the professor, he will face up to 2 years' imprisonment," he said.
The suit has been signed by Backman representing the Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee, prominent Finnish playwright Jussi Parviainen, musician Tommi Lievemaa, Evgenia Hilden-Jarvenpera, a member of the education committee in the city of Pori, and others.
Teivainen attempted to replay a Pussy Riot stunt at the Assumption Cathedral in Helsinki on August 5. The organizers of the action also brought a can with urine, which they planned to spill in the church. Nice, peaceful urine. Never upset anyone. Not a sign of great disrespect or an instrument of ridicule everywhere. Disgusting. After they were barred from entering the church, Teivainen arranged a rally and performance of Finnish masked girls on the street near the church. The girls were demanding the Pussy Riot members' release and freedom for sexual minorities in Russia. The attempt to stage a 'concert' at the Assumption Cathedral was part of a 'lecture walk' around Helsinki organized by the University of Helsinki and the Finland Museum of Contemporary Art, Backman said. Of course it was part of a university event. Higher education: friend of religion, exemplar of tolerance, bastion of measured reason.
Security at Orthodox churches in Finland has been stepped up now.