I’ve blogged before about Pussy Riot, the all-female Russian punk-rock band, some of whom were arrested and charged with “hooliganism” after five of the members performed an anti-Vladimir Putin song in Moscow’s main Russian Orthodox church cathedral on February 21. Talk about an over-reaction!
A you tube video is here. (The group has ten members, but not all perform at everything they do. They wear coloured balaclavas so that the police can’t tell who is who.) OK, It’s not exactly the greatest song I’ve ever heard, even allowing that I don’t speak Russian. The song asks the Virgin Mary to “Drive Putin Out.” (Putin being the current President of Russia, and former head of the FSB, successor to the KGB.)
Three of the women who sang in the cathedral were arrested, and two of these women have children. They have been held without bail, on a charge that carries a potential seven-year jail sentence. Amnesty International has designated them “prisoners of conscious” on the basis that the potential penalty is totally disproportionate to the “crime.” On July 2, Faith No More performed in Moscow, and invited some of Pussy Riot onstage to hold up a banner after FNM’s encore. You can see the youtube clip here. Last week, the three in jail went on a hunger strike starting Wednesday 4,, after their case was bought forward to Monday July 9. They said they would be unable to prepare a defence in time because of numerous procedural points of law they wished to challenge. Over the weekend, their lawyers claimed to have received assurances that the group would be released on Monday.
So let’s see what happens. Frankly, I’m not optimistic. Over 300 journalists have either been murdered or disappeared in Russia since 1993. It doesn’t sound like a state on the way to becoming a liberal democracy. I’d like to think the judge might acquit, or just sentence them to time served. It’s about the best you could hope for at present. I’m posting this late on Monday in Australia, so by this time tomorrow, Tuesday will have arrived in Russia. Let’s see. In the meantime, what’s the biggest over-reaction you’ve ever come across to a work of music or art?
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