They are trying to muzzle the members of Pussy Riot and their supporters. To no avail, as this statement from Yekaterina Samutsevich goes viral, alongside their protest video.
During the closing statement, the defendant is expected to repent or express regret for her deeds, or to enumerate attenuating circumstances. In my case, as in the case of my colleagues in the group, this is completely unnecessary. Instead, I want to express my views about the causes of what has happened with us.Powerful, lucid, trenchant.
The fact that Christ the Savior Cathedral had become a significant symbol in the political strategy of our powers that be was already clear to many thinking people when Vladimir Putin’s former [KGB] colleague Kirill Gundyaev took over as head of the Russian Orthodox Church. After this happened, Christ the Savior Cathedral began to be used openly as a flashy setting for the politics of the security services, which are the main source of power [in Russia].
Why did Putin feel the need to exploit the Orthodox religion and its aesthetics? After all, he could have employed his own, far more secular tools of power—for example, national corporations, or his menacing police system, or his own obedient judiciary system. It may be that the tough, failed policies of Putin’s government, the incident with the submarine Kursk, the bombings of civilians in broad daylight, and other unpleasant moments in his political career forced him to ponder the fact that it was high time to resign; otherwise, the citizens of Russia would help him do this. Apparently, it was then that he felt the need for more convincing, transcendental guarantees of his long tenure at the helm. It was here that the need arose to make use of the aesthetics of the Orthodox religion, historically associated with the heyday of Imperial Russia, where power came not from earthly manifestations such as democratic elections and civil society, but from God Himself.
The Putin-controlled court may have sentenced the trio to prison for their challenge to his glorious national immanence, but the international media winners of this confrontation are clearly the women. Other dissidents, as well as those opposed to Putin's totalitarianism, are the windfall beneficiaries.
The Putin system has made a PR catastrophe out of a situation that could have been easily contained with an administrative fine for a public order offence. Its actions have also revealed its clear desire to align itself closely with the Orthodox Church as a source of political support. The visible price of this policy has been the fusion of the Church’s principles and values with the “legal” process in the trial of the Pussy Riot activists.
The result has been to sow divisions within the ruling elite about how to handle the case and, at the same time, to create new dividing lines in society, including among Orthodox believers, about the type of justice that should be applied to Pussy Riot and the form it should take.
The authorities have also gifted a rallying point to the nascent and amorphous political opposition. Paradoxically, this comes at a time when opposition forces are struggling to rekindle the protest mood that swept Moscow in March during the run-up to the presidential election.
How is it that the Putin system was able to produce these outcomes that run counter to its interests of dividing the opposition and demonstrating the futility of protest?
There is more. Unlike the New York Times which dismissed the Pussy Riot's deliberately engineered protest as a "stunt", other media have considered the dissidence, the trial and the outcome.The Pussy Riot saga (DJ! original post last month).
In a chilling passage of the verdict read aloud in a Moscow court today, three members of punk group Pussy Riot were said to be "motivated by religious enmity and hatred". A reasonable response might be that those who have locked up these young singers for the crime of blasphemy in Vladimir Putin's Russia were motivated by religious bigotry and fear.
Far from being hooligans, as the prosecution alleged, the three feminists were unconventional campaigners whose anti-Putin songs in a Moscow Cathedral achieved a much vaster audience than originally anticipated.
The Kremlin's foolish over-reaction, which included keeping the band members in custody and away from their families for five months, led it to a lose-lose situation today. Hand down the full sentence of seven years and incur the wrath of international condemnation; let them go free and appear weak.
No open society can brutally suppress free expression in the name of preserving other people from offence. If such suppression becomes the norm, it will inevitably be mobilised at the convenience of those in power. So it is, by all accounts, in Moscow now. The scenes outside the courtroom today, which included the bundling into a police van of former chess champion Garry Kasparov, suggest the country's slide into autocracy is, if anything, accelerating.
It appears Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of the three women sentenced today, has a Canadian connection through her husband.