Friday, August 17, 2012

Two Year Sentence For Stunt Honoring Integrity In Church

The New York Times headlined Russian Punk Band Is Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison for Anti-Putin Stunt, By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN, with Nikolay Khalip, Anna Kordunsky, Ilya Mouzykantskii, Andrew Roth and Anna Tikhomirova contributing.
Datelined MOSCOW, Moscow judge, Marina Syrova, handed down stiff prison sentences of two years for three young women who staged a protest against Vladimir V. Putin in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior last February. According to The Times, the convicts’ jailing and trial on hooliganism charges have already generated worldwide criticism of constraints on political speech in Russia.
The explanation continues that while a Pussy Riot guilty verdict against the three women was widely expected, suspense had built over how severe a punishment they would receive. Prosecutors had demanded three-year prison terms, but President Vladimir V. Putin had weighed in on the side of leniency. Commenting on the case briefly, while in London for the Olympics, Mr. Putin said he hoped that the women were not judged “too severely,” but that there was nothing good about what they had done and the decision was the court’s.
But the judge showed little sympathy, and it was not immediately clear whether the sentences would prompt a reaction on Moscow’s streets, according to The Times. As the judge read the lengthy verdict, hundreds of demonstrators had gathered outside the courthouse and shouted, “Free Pussy Riot!”
So, is this blow now stricken for the cause of purported conservative justice, or for the rights of those who hold power to benefit?
Meanwhile riot police arrested dozens, including the former great chess champion Garry Kasparov, who is active in the political opposition. Mr. Kasparov fought with the police and appeared to be beaten as he was bundled into a police vehicle. Poor police mandated to protect their own safety before the public’s or the public will be without their protection. Huh?
Think if newspaper reporters chimed these facts from inside a cathedral they’d be carted off too? Possibly gaining exclusive jailhouse interviews with The Three Convicts. Although the women disrupted a holy service, didn’t they? Spoke out of turn in God’s House?
The Times states, near the start of the highly anticipated proceedings, the judge said Pussy Riot’s so-called punk prayer in Moscow’s main cathedral amounted to the crime of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and repeated that charge today in her verdict. Because that’s the propaganda that has stirred Russia’s religious masses to support this obvious suppression of free speech. The territorial reason behind Jesus going to the cross if anyone cares to recall?
And because the women acted as a group, the maximum sentence under the law is seven years in prison. Three, not bad, right, supposedly. So it would perhaps be thirty for stealing, and life every time someone is killed? Who’s kidding whom? Not them, they know what they’re doing. That’s why they’re in charge and intend to stay there behind the judge so that if she dared not act on behalf of the team … . So it must be that I’m being fooled? Are we not advancing? Yes Vladimir, what will your legacy be described as once we’re both gone? Traitors can be shot, but eventually no one has to be loyal to anyone alive now. Then where will you and your legacy be, then? Just another Czar?
Amnesty International condemned the sentences, which a spokeswoman said show “that the Russian authorities will stop at no end to suppress dissent and stifle civil society.”
The women have been in jail since March and a chorus of supporters, including the music world’s biggest stars have demanded their immediate release. Rallies in support were held in dozens of cities around the world on Friday. Look at that, Vladimir. The martyrdom is already more popular than a well-high-financed police state, except, of course, with The Well-High-Financed Police State.
The case has become a touchstone in the unfolding political drama that began in Russia after disputed parliamentary elections last December. Partly because of the sympathetic appearance of the defendants, two are mothers of young children, and their group uses music to carry its message. Pitting them against a united Kremlin and Russian Orthodox Church power-structure. Well that should protect all the Icons, God couldn’t seriously give a rat’s a__ about when most holy books point to no idols coming before God.
While the case has allowed opponents of Mr. Putin to portray his government as squelching free speech and presiding over a rigged judicial system, it has also handed the government an opportunity to portray its political opponents as obscene, disrespectful rabble-rousers, liberal urbanites backed by the West in a conspiracy against the Russian state and the Russian church. Uh huh. From Russia to wherever, put on pretty costumes and control the minds of those you rule and hate them when they disobey, gets us what? Totalitarianism, governments the world over accuse the others of being. Scapegoatism, Stalinism, Putinism? Watch out big guy. Really, you and whoever you appoint historian in charge will not define your legacy. And it’s beginning to look a lot like no one will be as nice as me. Get it? Mate.
The saga in February began when the women infiltrated Moscow’s main cathedral wearing colorful balaclavas, and pranced around in front of the golden Holy Doors leading to the altar. Dancing, chanting and lip-synching for what would later become a music video of a profane song in which they beseeched the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Mr. Putin. Oh, so it’s just that they weren’t praying the right way? The Russian Orthodox Church and State can now comfortably represent themselves as those once influential bastards, the Klux Klux Klan did in the U.S. Where if you weren’t one of them, you were just wrong? So is it possible everyone in Russian prison is innocent, while the guilty of conspiracy to control all the sources of wealth roam free?
At their Church event security guards quickly stripped Pussy Riot of their guitars, but the video was completed with splices of footage from another church.
But while they have become minor heroes in the entertainment world, Pussy Riot is far more political than musical. Members have never released a song or an album, and they do not seem to have any serious aspirations to do so. But then, Times why should we care, when you point out on Thursday, with tensions rising in anticipation of the verdict and sentencing, the authorities said that threats had been made against Judge Syrova and that bodyguards had been assigned to her. Uh huh.
As the trial opened, the women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, and Maria Alyokhina, 24, apologized, saying they had never intended to offend the Orthodox Church but rather sought to make a political statement against Mr. Putin and against the church patriarch, Kirill I, for supporting Mr. Putin in his campaign for a third term as president. But prosecutors and lawyers for religious people who where described as victims of the stunt said the women were motivated by religious hatred. The defendants were accused of committing “moral harm” and even of practicing Satanism. And at the time I’m sure there were fans in the audience enjoying hearing Nero play while Rome burned too. Or at least wealthy paid enough not to criticize. And what’s the going rate in Russia anyway?
As the trial continued, the women seemed emboldened by their mounting international support, including from Madonna, who paused a concert in Moscow to give a speech urging their release and later performed wearing a black bra with “Pussy Riot” stenciled in bold letters on her back. Sure, Madonna never saw a publicity stunt she didn’t like, except, perhaps as in this case, your government’s President Putin. But, I know, we both know. Madonna was at least allowed to perform with smoke and mirrors too, I presume. Ha!
In a closing statement, Ms. Tolokonnikova, the most outspoken of the defendants, railed against repression in Russia. “To my deepest regret, this mock trial is close to the standards of the Stalinist troikas,” she said. “Who is to blame for the performance at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and for our being put on trial after the concert? The authoritarian political system is to blame. What Pussy Riot does is oppositional art or politics.” Adding, “In any event, it is a form of civil action in circumstances where basic human rights, civil and political freedoms are suppressed.”
And now back to this. There was a time once, long ago, when as a small child I was honored to play one of The Three Wisemen before our Church and sing, “We Three Kings.” In preparation before in our Sunday School classroom one of the children raised in the southern white tradition, used my nickname and said, “_____ is the black one.” Well embarrassment aside, a more nobler honor has never since then been bestowed on me than that, and I have a good feeling Pussy Riot’s legacy for their Church performance will prove to be just as correctly virtuous. How about yours Mr. President? Because from here, you still have some catching up to do. Not that you’re so far behind the world leader idiots who claim God tells them to go to war, but against your own people you’re coming too darn close. Cut it out. I know it’s not just you, but you’re the one who’ll be in the books.
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