A Russian teenager could face up to three years in jail for walking into a cathedral and lighting a cigarette from a church candle.
He posted the video on TikTok and faces punishment under laws signed off by Vladimir Putin after an altar protest by punk group Pussy Riot.
A criminal case has been opened against the unnamed student in the Siberian city of Chita following the viral the stunt.
Investigators said he was “demonstrably” caught lighting a cigarette from an altar candle in the Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God.
He then took a drag on the cigarette.
On the video a Bongo Cat version of the Billie Eilish hit Bad Guy is playing.
The Russian Orthodox Church made a plea for mercy for the teenager after he apologised for the video.
Seeking to avoid punishment of up to three years in jail or a £5,000 fine for offending religious feelings under Russian laws, he said: “I offer my deepest apologies to everyone who watched the video where I light up off a candle in church.
“I didn’t want to offend anyone with this, I swear.”
He claimed: “I didn’t even do it for the kudos.
“I just did it for myself, out of my own stupidity."
The church’s Chita diocese’s representative Metropolitan Dmitry said: “I’ve met both himself and his guardians.
“The young man expressed sincere regret for his actions.
“Therefore, the Chita diocese intends to ask the investigation to show mercy.”
The strict laws on offending religious sensibilities came into effect following an anti-Putin protest in Moscow’s largest cathedral by feminist punk band Pussy Riot in 2012.
Pussy Riot is a feminist protest and punk rock band originally from Moscow.
There are approximately 11 members of the performance arts group and they staged performances in public places.
Its controversial shows were often filmed and streamed on the internet.
It gained global notoriety following a performance inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in 2012, eventually being halted by church security guards.
Members of the band were arrested for hooliganism following the show.
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