Church backs pole dancer as authorities investigate
Police in the Russian city of Dzerzhinsk have opened an investigation into a video of a local woman pole-dancing in a city square, in view of a chapel, after the clip went viral online and was noticed by local authorities.
Alyona Katsan performed her routine in the frigid temperatures of a winter’s day in broad daylight and published the video to her Instagram account. Despite not receiving any official complaints, the police are investigating the matter.
Dzerzhinsk is located near the city of Nizhny Novgorod, about 370 kilometers east of Moscow.
In the last year, a handful of Russians have been prosecuted for what is deemed to be disrespectful behavior in front of a church. In October, a Tajik blogger and his Russian girlfriend were each handed 10 months behind bars for simulating oral sex in a photograph taken outside Moscow’s iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral on Red Square. Shortly after, cops in St. Petersburg announced that they were investigating Instagram model Ira Volkova for posting revealing photos from opposite the city’s historic St. Isaac’s Cathedral.
Charges against other people have been filed under “insulting the religious feelings of believers,” a law passed in 2013 after the feminist protest punk rock band Pussy Riot played music inside Moscow’s main cathedral.
According to local outlet NewsNN, Katsan explained that the chapel was caught in the frame by accident.
“I chose a site in the city where there isn’t much traffic. I had planned to turn around a bit in a different direction, but this angle was better for the light,” she explained.
Despite some outrage online, the archdiocese of Nizhny Novgorod refused to complain, explaining that it saw nothing offensive in the video.
“A lot of people dance – do we need to comment on every dance? How is this dance different from another?” said the church’s press secretary, Alexey Prestretsov. “The edge of the chapel got in the frame. You cannot even see it there. Temples are everywhere. Temples are on the streets of our cities. They decorate our cities. So, it got in the frame – so what?”