UPDATED - to add result of trial and include a closing statement from Nadezhda Tolokonnikova
I'm a little bit surprised that the blogosphere isn't more fired up over the most recent crack down on civil liberties in Russia. The American media has generally been lax to report on totalitarian strongmen that deny civil rights to their citizens. Yet occasionally, violence in Tianamen Square or the fall of the Berlin Wall forces them to take notice. I would have thought the treatment of Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot
might intrigue them into some sort of reporting. However, it has been lax.
For those that don't follow the story, Pussy Riot is a collective of young Russian women that play thrashy hard core punk songs protesting their totalitarian government. Since I don't speak Russian, I'm taking this on faith, as I can't understand the lyrics. There are a bunch of them, and they wear masks on their faces (reminiscent of the American Wrestling Associan's Super Destroyer Mark II) so the authorities cannot identify them.
They call themselves feminists, and unlike American feminists, want something more substantial than government funded birth control. They want reforms to a government that is reverting back to its old Soviet legacy.
Interestingly, Vladimir Putin, in his consolidation of power, seems to have found an ally in the Russian Orthodox Church. Because of this, last February (2012) Pussy Riot staged an uninvited performance at the Church of Christ the Savior in Moscow. They subsequently released video of the event as part of a music video for their song, "Punk Prayer: Mother of God Drive Putin Away." Here is the video (without subtitles, but effectively shows what happened):
Afterward, three members of the band were tracked down, arrested, charged with hooliganism, and are were recently found guilty, facing two years of prison. Two years of prison, for what looks to me to be an act of trespessing. Clearly, the prosecution is an act against free speech by the Putin regime. It is so obvious that usual leftists like Madonna and Sting have come out in support of Pussy Riot. We at NIGP are happy to reach across the aisle in support of human rights, so we want to add our support to their just cause.
Reports suggest that some of the members of the band have fled Russia. However, the band recently released a new song, "Putin Lights up the Fires." I think it is the best song I've heard from them yet.
I am overwhelmed that truth really does triumph over lies even though physically we are here in a cage. We are freer than the people sitting opposite us for the prosecution because we can say everything we like, and we do, but those people sitting there say only what political censorship allows them to say. They can’t speak words like “punk prayer” or "Virgin Mary, Banish Putin!” They can’t say the lines from our punk prayer that have to do with the political system. Perhaps they think it wouldn’t be a bad thing to send us to jail because we are rising up against Putin and his system as well but they can’t say so because that’s not allowed either. Their mouths are sewn shut. Unfortunately, they are mere puppets. I hope they realize this and also take the road to freedom, truth and sincerity because these are superior to stasis, contrived decency and hypocrisy. Stasis and the search for truth are always in opposition to one another and, in this case, at this trial, we can see people who are trying to find the truth and people who are trying to enslave those who want to find the truth.