Pussy Riot will topple Putin; mark my words!

Haven’t seen any discussion of the Pussy Riot “trial” here, and it’s prolly gonna wrap up tomorrow (8 August, Wednesday).

Pussy Riot is the name of an all-female punk rock band/performance group in Russia. Three of the women in the band are about to be sentenced to a labor camp, possibly for 3 years or more, for storming onto the pulpit at a church (not during a service, tho) and dancing and singing a brief song about Russian President Putin and the church patriarch. The women say they were upset that the church was telling people who to vote for in the last election, which took place in early May.

For those who haven’t read about this in the news, here’s a couple of articles:

Prosecutors Ask for 3 Years for Anti-Putin Rockers from the AP News service
Pussy Riot Trial: Russian Prosecutor Seeks Jail Time For Protesters at Huffington Post
The Absurd and Outrageous Trial of Pussy Riot from The New Yorker

Here’s their page on wikipedia.

This is their blog on Livejournal; most of it is in Russian, but there is also some English text and links to stories in the US and UK.

Briefly, the 3 women are charged with “hooliganism” and “inciting religious hatred” for performing what they call a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour cathedral, part of the Russian Orthodox Church. In the prayer (a song, really), the 3 women, clad in balaclavas (knitted face covers), danced and sang words to the effect of “Mother Mary, chase Putin away” and also made reference to church patriarch Kiril as a man who believes in Putin more than he believes in God. The total time of the stunt was about 60 seconds before security guards escorted/chased them off the pulpit and out of the building. You can watch the video here.

For some reason, only 3 of the people who took part in this have been arrested and charged (there are 4 people in the performance and 1 person filming it).

This has been big news in the metal/punk community, and I’ve read quite a bit about the modern state of Russia. IMO, the place is cosmetically nicer than it was when it was the USSR, but as is so often the case, it seems the beauty is only skin deep. This “trial” has had a foregone conclusion since the women were arrested and the state really hasn’t been coy about that fact.

My feeling is that this will focus international attention on the fact that Russia isn’t really a democracy, nor is it as open as the Russian PTB want the world to think it is. I don’t hold out much hope that these 3 women will face anything other than a harsh sentence, but I do have hope that they will become a symbol and focal point for other Russians and the world community. With information flowing as quickly and freely as it does these days, I think this could be the pebble that starts an avalanche and leads to Russia finally having a semblance of the freedoms that so many of us have, and the end to the autocratic charade that passes for Russian democracy.

Make no mistake, the punk rock and metal communities do not forget or forsake our own. Whatever the outcome of the “trial”, Pussy Riot has already earned a spot in our legends and lore, and these women’s brave stance and bold expression will be celebrated in songs long after Putin’s life is mentioned only with a snarl and a tone of disgust. Hopefully that day will come sooner than later, thanks in no small part to Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich.

I am a fan of free speech but I am NOT a fan of what these girls did. It was direspectful and not the proper venue.

That said. Three years in a labor camp? Way the fuck over the top. They should be given a fine at most.

No, this is neither going to topple Putin nor cause the rest of the world to have any effect on Rusian internal politics. Yes, it’s shitty.

And then what? Team America World Police?

Assuming it’s big news to the world that Russia isn’t really a democracy (and I don’t really think it is news), who is going to take them to task over it?

Clearly the awesome political power of the punk rock and metal communities.

Disrepectful, shitty, not the proper venue? Given the way “democracy” works in Russia, I couldn’t care less and I fully support those girls.
But there’s no chance it will result in any toppling of Putin. “Punk rock and metal communities”, regardless of how unforgiving they might be, have no political weight. There’s no massive opposition to Putin amongst Russian youth, and even that wouldn’t suffice. On an international level, Putin did much worse and much more newsworthy things, and it only resulted in some countries expressing politely their concerns.

I’m sorry for these girls.

My first thought: they still have labor camps!? At least as a sentence for female non-violent offenders! Well, they’ll get to write some cool diaries.

I agree they were semi-obnoxious and won’t accomplish anything. Doesn’t make Putin any less autocrat-y.

Also, I don’t know how things are in Russia, but there is not much of a “metal/punk community,” they stay separate. The hardcore guys may borrow from metal, and thrash from punk, but they stay in their own camps.

Maybe the used to have labor camps, but now they will have Pussy camps, a vast improvement I’m sure.

I think the rest of the world got a clue the Russians weren’t particularly democratic when they killed off bunches of reporters who wrote about government corruption.

It actually reminds me of a group of Russian rockers of one genre or another who deliberately infected themselves with AIDS to make some sort of political point. Probably worked out about as well as this will.

Well it’s proto-democracy as it is proto-capitalist.

Most societies that create from within tend to take several decades to settle down.

fuck yeah!!

Obviously, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova needs my help breaking out of the slammer and will be highly appreciative of my chivalry.

So, a hypothetical Russian and I have a conversation:

ME: It’s disgraceful, what Russia is doing to these girls!

HR: But they committed crime, yes?

ME: Considering the way “democracy” works in Russia, no!

HR: Wait. I am not understanding. In your country, is legal for people to come into church, disrupt service?

ME: Well, no. But …

HR: …And in your country, is true if girls do this, police can be called?

ME: Well… yes.

HR: Girls arrested?

ME: Well, if the church didn’t press charges…

HR: But if they did?

ME: Then, yes, girls arrested.

HR: So what is problem?

The problem is that the punishment outweighs the crime by about 5 bajillion fucktons.

Must overturn verdict on basis of band name alone.

(bolding mine)

In Virginia, trespass is a class one misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500. Conspiring with others to trespass is a Class 3 misdemeanor.

In Virginia, inmates in jail typically work: trash pickup, etc.

I agree the Russian sentence might end up being harsher (have they actually been sentenced?) but I’m not so sure about the 5 bajillion fucktons.

See, my issue is that even here, in the land of the free, you don’t get to use someone else’s pulpit – in this case, literally a pulpit – to exercise your right to free speech. If their impromptu performance had been on the street outside the church as parishoners left, my discomfort with the authorities would be complete.

But my admiration of the girls’ willingness to protest is tempered by the understanding that they infringed on someone else’s rights to do so. And the knowledge that the same act in this country could result in a year or so of jail time.

Under what circumstances would it get the maximum sentence?

I kept reading the OP title as ‘Pussy Rot will topple Putin; mark my words!’. Pussy rot is definitely something to be avoided, and I suppose if it gets bad enough it might topple Putin…

(I agree that the sentence seems really over the top for the crime committed. 3 years, regardless of where seems pretty harsh for the crime as outlined in the OP. On the bright side, it’s an improvement over the old system, since the girls might have been sent to 10 years hard labor or even shot in the past, so I suppose it’s progress…of a sort)

Correction noted. NOT during a service.

And please don’t take my comments here as a general defense of the Russian joke that pretends to be a fair trial. But by their own admission, the girls did something that, if committed here, would be a crime. They can complain about harsh sentences, I suppose, if they get a harsh sentence. But unless I’m missing something – and Lord knows I may be – the underlying act was civil disobedience. A sine qua non of civil disobedience is the willingness to accept punishment for your willful disregard of the law you believe is wrong, is it not?