Thursday, 9 August 2012

Pussy Riot, Mad Vlad & the Bristol MP: updated

Updated 17th August

Pussy Riot have just been sentenced to two years in prison for 'Hooliganism'.

Apparently one of the reasons they are Hooligans is because they are feminists, and because they disrespected the tastes of others. For your information, I ****ing hate Marmite, and I refuse to say I like it, even if you are a man. I will probably continue to take the piss out your vile marmite-habits, even if you are a man. I am clearly a hooligan. See, easy isn't it? Lock me up, somebody. 

I really think Putin might have done something very stupid this time. I think that being able to do exactly as you want, to anyone, within your own fiefdom, makes people very stupid after a while.

Its easy to say a Moscow Spring will never happen. I could easily dig you up a dozen links saying there would never be a change of regime in Egypt, Libya, or Syria, only I can't be bothered.

________________________________

I've been meaning to write something about the Pussy Riot Trial on my blog for a while. Pussy Riot are the Russian all-female punk bank arrested a while ago for singing a 'Punk Prayer' in a Moscow Cathedral. 'Virgin Mary, put Putin* away!' Goes the chorus. They were arrested, imprisoned, and are now facing trial for 'Hooliganism and Religious Hatred.'

Yesterday I noticed that Bristol East MP Kerry MacCarthy was tweeting from the court in Moscow. Apparently this is because Kerry is shadow human rights minister. (Some people aren't entirely happy about this. They think MPs should be spending more time worrying about drains and things.)** Anyway, I asked if she'd be prepared to talk to me, and she very kindly agreed.

Kerry described the courtroom, with its glass fishtank, as recounted by , here. The process, she said, was 'quite one-sided, and all about the prosecution case. The girls had very little opportunity to talk to their lawyers. The only witnesses they were allowed to call were character witnesses." Despite the fact that the girls were getting 2-3 hours sleep per night, and weren't being fed in court, she said "they didn't seem subdued by their experiences. They didn't look defeated."

The trial, she said, was based on obscure church law. "The underlying theme was very much not about what they've done but about them as people, as athiests, punks, performance artists, rather than that act that only took 40 seconds." One of the prosecution witnesses famously stated 'feminism is a mortal sin'.

Kerry also visited the church where the alleged outrage against religion took place. This temple of sanctity apparently also houses a resturant, a business centre, and can be hired for parties and other events at the grand sum of £10,000 per night. "Pussy Riot chose that place for a political statement,' said Kerry, "because it represented the links between church, state, and business people."

I asked Kerry what the reaction of ordinary Russians are to the trial. "There is an acceptance in the Russian psyche that the state does things to you. There's been quite a few other arrests recently and it all feeds into the idea that you're not allowed to have an opinion."

In a wider sense, this trial is happening because when protests broke out last autumn in Russia, the sniff of an Arab Spring-type revolt sent panic through the oligarchy. As I'm sure you'll aware, the fires started by the Arab Spring are now burning most fiercely in Syria, which hosts a Russian naval base and is more or less a neighbour (and ally) of Russia. This is why a state that once seriously threatened the mighty US of A is now seriously threatened by three female punk rockers. Oh how the mighty are fallen.

I asked Kerry what she thought the chances were of a serious revolt in Russia. "You can never tell what the tipping point will be that sparks real change," she said. Politician's answer, if true all the same. For those of us not required to give politician's answers, you can contribute to Pussy Riots defence here. Or follow this twitter account which is in English: @Eng_Pussy_Riot, or this blog. There is another, multulingual one: @freepussyriot.

Unlike the Arab countries, where many activists have lived abroad and speak several languages, Russian protest and activism doesn't have much of an international face. It can be hard to find information in English. As Kerry pointed out, the amount of interest generated by the Pussy Riot trial has surprised many people, including Putin. I hope that the Russian activists learn from this and get their act together in terms of making international connections and information available to the wider world.

Finally, before anyone says that this is nothing to do with us, I'd like to point out that many of the Russian oligarchs who have stripped that country are very comfortably residing on the proceeds in London. As far as I'm concerned, the sooner the Russians want them back, the better. I'm sure they look dandy in that little fishtank. Maybe we can even arrange for some punk performance artists to interrogate them.

*I normally link to Wikipedia to provide this type of information. But it seems the wikipedia page on Mad Vlad has been hacked by his supporters, and is now a disappointing hagiography. Sort it out, wikipedia!
**If you are an Evening Post reader, Russia is the big blob on the map behind Poland. We were on the same side as them in the war. Also, the number for Dynorod is 0800 078 3125.

1 comment:

  1. In 1917 they burned the churches. The Orthodox Church is getting it lightly this time. They should be grateful. The coalition of old commies turned oligarchic nationalists overnight and the resurgent Czarist church is a truly repellent sight. So are all the western creeps like Madonna and the wannabe Putin clone Navalny who shed hypocrite crocodile tears 'on behalf' of PR. But maybe before we start on Russian oligarchs living in London, let's kick out the oligarchs closer to home. Like the rip off Olympics corporations, or the financial assets of our own dear chancellor, Gideon Osborne.

    ReplyDelete