Archive for August 18, 2012


Sir Paul McCartney may have supported them.

Madonna, Franz Ferdinand, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers may have asked that they be set free.

These artists may have just be few among many who either expressed support or asked that they be set free.

The Pussy Riot 3 in a glass cage during court proceedings

However, Moscow Judge Marina Syrova found three members of a punk-rock band, Pussy Riot, guilty for hooliganism–a ‘blasphemy incited by religious hatred’.  The three women were meted a 2-year jail sentence; the prosecutors wanted 3 years; while legally, they could have been jailed for seven years.

Tolokonnikova: A still defiant Pussy Riot-er

Sentenced were Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, a philosophy student described by the prosecution to be ‘evil genius’ behind Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina, 24, a student of journalism and creative writing   and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, a computer programmer.  Two of them were young mothers.  They have been in jail since early March this year after they staged an anti-Vladimir Putin prayer at the nave of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow’s most important church.  Putin is the current prime minister of the Russian Federation and the Pussy Riot declared they were opposed to Putin’s policies and the close ties between the Putin government and the Russian Orthodox Church.

A pensive Yekaterina Samutsevich

The Guardian reported that in her opening statement, read by a lawyer, Tolokonnikova apologized for those who were insulted by Pussy Riot’s performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. “We had no intentions to offend anyone,” she said. “We wish that those who cannot understand us can forgive us.”  She spelled out the group’s intent: “The words we spoke and our entire punk performance aimed to express our disapproval of a specific political event: the patriarch’s support of Vladimir Putin, who has taken an authoritarian and anti-feminist course. Our performance contained no aggression towards the audience, but only a desperate desire to change the political situation in Russia for the better.”

For Tolokonnikova’s full profile, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/08/pussy-riot-profile-nadezhda-tolokonnikova).

The political is personal: Maria Alyokhina smiles as she is led by police to a court in Moscow.

Before the sentencing, Moscow was rife with talk that the PS3 will indeed be sent to jail for hooliganism instead of being slapped on the wrist for committing a mere misdemeanor.  There was likewise talk that even if they will be jailed, the sentence will be less than the full seven years.

While Prime Minister Putin asserted that the case was off his hands, many believed that the court hearing the case was not truly independent of the Kremlin.

Across the English Channel and the Atlantic, pundits pontificated that the PS3 decision will be a test of the Russian judicial system and could affect the flow of Western investments into the Federation.

Everybody seems so ‘het up’ save the three.   Look at them.  Nadezhda is defiant.   Maria is smiling.   And Yekaterina is at peace.  I guess the three are satisfied they have made their (strong) point at the Cathedral and in court.  I believe they also knew they could not get away with their punk prayer lightly.

So they’re jail-bound.  I hope they will find more time to rehearse their acts and write new material.

As someone who was also jailed for my beliefs and political activities, I salute Nadya, Katya, and Masha.

Viva Pussy Riot!

 

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Author’s note: See my earlier post on the Pussy Riot (https://bongmendoza.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/self-immolation-and-prosecution-israel-and-russia/).  Thank you.