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We have lost to the judicial machine, but still we have won: Pussy Riot

August 15, 2012

On February 21 this year, Maria Alyokhina (24) Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (22) and Yekaterina Samutsevich (30) of the punk band Pussy Riot, stormed into Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral and belted out a ‘punk prayer’, asking the Virgin Mary to “Throw Putin out!” They were charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

The three have been held more than five months at Pre-Trial Detention Facility No. 6, near Pechatniki metro station in Moscow.

In her defiant and thoughtful closing statement at the trial a couple of days ago, Yekaterina Samutsevich  said:

In the closing statement, the defendant is expected to repent, express regret for their deeds or enumerate attenuating circumstances. In my case, as in the case of my colleagues in the group, this is completely unnecessary. Instead, I want to voice my thoughts about the reasons behind what has happened to us.

That Christ the Savior Cathedral had become a significant symbol in the political strategy of the authorities was clear to many thinking people when Vladimir Putin’s former [KGB] colleague Kirill Gundyayev took over as leader of the Russian Orthodox Church. After this happened, Christ the Savior Cathedral began to be openly used as a flashy backdrop for the politics of the security forces, which are the main source of power [in Russia].

Why did Putin feel the need to exploit the Orthodox religion and its aesthetic? After all, he could have employed his own, far more secular tools of power—for example, the state-controlled corporations, or his menacing police system, or his obedient judiciary system…

I now have mixed feelings about this trial. On the one hand, we expect a guilty verdict. Compared to the judicial machine, we are nobodies, and we have lost. On the other hand, we have won. The whole world now sees that the criminal case against us has been fabricated. The system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial. Once again, the world sees Russia differently from the way Putin tries to present it at his daily international meetings. Clearly, none of the steps Putin promised to take toward instituting the rule of law have been taken. And his statement that this court will be objective and hand down a fair verdict is yet another deception of the entire country and the international community. That is all. Thank you.

Maria Alyokhina, in an interview, was asked: “Is your punk prayer, which lasted a little longer than five minutes, worth five months of imprisonment in jail and separation from loved ones?”

She answered:

Yes, I think it’s worth it. It seems to me that the power vertical system in each institution has to be disclosed and have light shed on it publicly.

A judge will deliver her verdict in a Moscow court on Friday the 17th.

Meanwhile, in Moscow a handful of masked protesters demonstrated outside Moscow’s main cathedral on Wednesday in support of Pussy Riot, holding up black cards with white letters spelling out the phrase “Blessed are the merciful”.

Guards moved swiftly to disperse the demonstrators and treated some of them roughly, Internet TV channel Dozhd reported. Pussy Riot supporters said on social media that at least two people had been detained.

The global campaign to free Pussy Riot is mobilizing this week in at least a dozen cities worldwide to hold simultaneous demonstrations an hour before the judgement is delivered.

 

 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Sajan permalink
    August 15, 2012 5:21 PM

    An extraordinary video of Pussy Riot performing their Punk Prayer (“Virgin Mary, Put Putin Away”) is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALS92big4TY. Also the lyrics of the song. (Not sure the video is the real thing, though it looks genuine enough).

    • Nivedita Menon permalink*
      August 15, 2012 7:20 PM

      Thanks, Sajan. My sense is though, that this is a video later made of the event, editing the raw footage and inserting the actual song.
      This (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grEBLskpDWQ) appears to be the raw footage of the actual event, though I’m not sure about that either.

  2. William Robert Da Silva permalink
    August 16, 2012 8:59 AM

    As it happens elsewhere in the global society, with national and regional variations, the secular ‘vertical’ (capitalism/socialism) is looking for religions, that is transcendent dimensions, for their legitimacy to rule and justify the particular use of power. Russia, with Putin, is demonstrating this with some alliance with the Russian Orthodox Church.
    The ‘Pussy Riot’ might be a symbolic gesture of protest but without multiple centres of such protest within CIS (with Russia) it would be difficult to bring about real ‘horizontal’ change where citizens’ rights are respected and promoted. Participation in elections, the way they are strategised, seems to be the ‘last fig leaf’ of hiding authoritarian/autocratic shame. Probably everywhere including India.
    William

  3. sajan permalink
    August 17, 2012 10:06 PM

    (Reuters) – “Three women from Russian punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in jail on Friday for their protest against President Vladimir Putin in a church, an outcome supporters described as the Kremlin leader’s “personal revenge”.

    The band’s supporters burst into chants of “Shame” outside the Moscow courthouse and said the case showed Putin’s refusal to tolerate dissent.

    Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Marina Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, giggled as the judge read out the sentences one by one. They have already been in jail for about five months, meaning they will serve another 19.”

    http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/17/russia-pussyriot-idINDEE87G05220120817

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