***** Riot - Sentenced to Two Years Penal Servitude

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Scepticalscribe, Aug 19, 2012.

  1. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #1
    I have been struck by the complete absence of any comment on these often vocal threads on a topic which has exercised considerable attention in Europe these past few months.

    This concerns the arrest, jaundiced (and, the suspicion is, pre-judged) trial, and - as of last Friday (August 17) the sentence of two years imprisonment handed down by a court in Moscow to the three members of the feminist punk band, ***** Riot, charged with 'hooliganism' (a catch-all charge from Soviet times) for singing a brief (ant-Putin) political song from the (ostentatiously rebuilt) Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow - one viewed as not simply offensive, but profoundly sacrilegious - by the Russian Orthodox Church, which in Tsarist times, and again, more recently since the fall of communism, has enjoyed incestuously close ties with the state, where church and state both serve to legitimate the authority of the other in the realm over which they each rule.

    Issues of freedom of speech, the right of protest, the right of access to a public space, matters of respect for spaces seen as sacred, the re-emerging and powerful role of the Orthodox church - traditionally exceptionally conservative - and its links with the state, pre-scripted trials and pre-determined and handed-down sentences, are all matters which are deserving of our attention with this issue. Of course, punk music apart - none of it is new. Well over a century ago, in the reign of Tsar Alexander III (1881-1894), we had the slogan "Nationalism, Autocracy and Orthodoxy" as a template for the state, one which it seems the current regime of President V. V. Putin is more than happy to emulate.

    Nick Cohen in today's (August 19) [London] Observer penned the following, and I take the liberty of citing him:

    In her statement to a nobbled judge hearing a trumped-up charge before a kangaroo court, Yekaterina Samutsevich explained why she had "blasphemed". The secular forces of oppression at Putin's disposal were not enough for him, she said with remarkable lucidity given her perilous circumstances. He wanted "transcendental guarantees of his long tenure at the pinnacle of power" too. The Orthodox church, "associated with the heyday of imperial Russia, where power came not from earthly manifestations such as democratic elections and civil society, but from God Himself", now gave credulous believers religious reasons to support the crime gang in the Kremlin.

    ***** Riot had staged many protests. Revealingly, the security apparatus came for Samutsevich and her sisters after a 30-second stunt in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral. It hit a nerve by striking at Russia's union of church and state – of patriarch and oligarch – into a common reactionary front.

    "Holy Mother, Blessed Virgin, chase Putin out," they sang. The Holy Mother remained as elusive as ever, but Kirill I, Patriarch of Moscow, is more than content to keep Putin's money launderers in the Temple. He has struck a deal. Putin offers the Orthodox church a partial restoration of its tsarist privileges: state aid for the restoration of churches the communists destroyed; and the return of priests to the schools and universities. Kirill returns the favour by making support for the Kremlin kleptomaniacs a quasi-religious duty. Everyone quotes his statement that Putin's rule was a "miracle of God". But they miss the hysterical assertion that before Putin's divine intervention Russia was in as bad a state as when the Nazis invaded in 1941. Those who protested against Putin's rigged election, continued Vsevolod Chaplin, spokesman for the Moscow patriarchate, were comparable to foreign agents. They were "under the influence of puppet masters" – manipulated and suspect.

    Russian Orthodoxy has always been a state religion. The communists persecuted believers, but the KGB found many collaborators in the church who were prepared to put obedience to established power first. For this reason, it is a mistake to dismiss Kirill's support for Putin as simple cynicism. He believes in autocracy and hates liberalism as much as his predecessors did and Putin does. That Kirill is liberalism's avowed enemy becomes clear from reading his Freedom and Responsibility: A Search for Harmony. If its Amazon ranking is a guide, hardly any English reader has glanced at it, which is a pity because although the cleric's arguments are drear when they are not repellent, they provide as a good an illustration as any of how opposition to human rights can be covered with smells and bells.

    "The most fundamental conflict of our present era is the clash between the liberal mode of civilisation on the one hand and national culture and religious identity on the other," Kirill begins. To which one can only say that he is right and that he is also fighting for the wrong side. I must emphasise that by liberalism the patriarch does not mean rampant individualism but any human society that tolerates "sin" providing sinners "remain within the law of land and do not harm others". No charge is too wild to throw at such hell holes. "The human rights concept is used to cover up lies, falsehood and insults against religion and national values," Kirill fumes. Secularism is diseased – "infected with the bacillus of self-destruction". Secular countries allow women to control their fertility and tolerate homosexuality. They are nominally free "but defenceless against evil".

    The cleric barely makes an effort to disguise how Russia's dark traditions of occidentalism and antisemistim have influenced his thought. Universal values are the product of a malign, alien ideology that comes from the western "protestant" theologians and – but, of course – "Jewish philosophers". The Orthodox church can accept liberalism in the far-off lands of Europe and North America. But in Russia they "cannot stay silent when norms contradicting the foundation of the Orthodox faith are imposed on them". This is the "multi-polarism" of Putin's foreign ministry in clerical vestments. Liberal standards have no place in Russia.

    As always, the trouble with cultural exceptionalism is that it has no honest way of arguing with members of that culture who want change. You can search Patriarch Kirill's writings in vain for any acknowledgement that Russians who protest against corruption or the denial of democratic rights or the crimes of the wars in the Caucasus have a case that deserves a hearing. They are just the tools of "puppet masters"; the propagators of the debased ideologies of "protestant theologians" and "Jewish philosophers".

    Kirill's writing reveals one of Russia's most sinister characteristics. A regime of former KGB officers and plutocrats is robbing the country blind, while the leadership of the national church supports the thieves and denounces their opponents.

    At least the patriarch has made it clear that he is liberalism's enemy. The great wet blanket that covers criticism of religion in democracies makes returning that enmity a struggle. Overpaid and undereducated commentators in the half-serious media denounce criticism of religion as a form of racism. So I suppose that before I am accused of possessing a phobia about Orthodoxy, I must add that Putin was able to count on the support of Russia's craven chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, who told him that because protests had taken place on Saturday (the Jewish sabbath) they were "not a Jewish business".

    The regime could also line up a procession of mullahs and lamas to support it. The toleration of tyranny is an ecumenical business in Russia. Nor does indulgence stop at Russia's borders. The English translation of Kirill's fulminations carries a foreword by Richard Chartres, the silly and faintly disgraceful Anglican Bishop of London. He offers no criticism of the patriarch. Instead, he praises his "acute intelligence".

    The most ignorant political insult of our time must be the charge of "militant atheism" that invariably follows the accusation of racism. What else is there to say about it? The Soviet communists who murdered Christians, Jews and Muslims were militant atheists. They persecuted others because of their beliefs. Who are the communists' successors today? If you do not know, I suggest that you direct your inquiries to Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich. After two years "corrective labour" in a "penal colony", they may be able to reply.
     
  2. eric/ Guest

    eric/

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2011
    Location:
    Ohio, United States
    #2
    Well I think nobody has posted anything because it's just known that it's absolutely ridiculous.
     
  3. niuniu macrumors 68020

    niuniu

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Location:
    A man of the people. The right sort of people.
    #3
    I considered making a thread and I bet others too - but it seems so hopeless. No country has significant influence over Russia (China maybe? Non-interventionists anyway) and the Russian public are touted as being strongly united over the PRiot case.

    Russian leftists need to wait for a chink in the armor before taking on change. PRiot are ahead of their time. When they get out they should come to the UK, settle here, tour, get the message out.

    Did you read about their 100 year gay protesting ban? Was upheld in their highest court. Think about that - their highest court upheld a ban on pubic gay advocacy. Holy *****.
     
  4. thewitt macrumors 68020

    thewitt

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2011
    #4
    You guys do know there is no constitutionally protected freedom of speech in Russia, right?

    Oh yeah, here is the actual Article from their Constitution

    Article 29.

    1) Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought and speech.
    2) Propaganda or campaigning inciting social, racial, national or religious hatred and strife is impermissible. The propaganda of social, racial, national, religious or language superiority is forbidden.
    3) No one may be coerced into expressing one's views and convictions or into renouncing them.
    4) Everyone shall have the right to seek, get, transfer, produce and disseminate information by any lawful means. The list of information constituting the state secret shall be established by the federal law.
    4) The freedom of the mass media shall be guaranteed. Censorship shall be prohibited.

    Maybe someone should email this to Putin. It's possible he's never seen it...
     
  5. Happybunny macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2010
    #5

    I see it this way after the Yelsin years, the Russians were happy for any stability, and were willing to look the other way over human rights. It will take time for that to wear off, the loss of revenue because of the lower oil price is starting to bite.
     
  6. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Location:
    Communard de Londres
    #6
    As much as I'm supportive of ***** Riot and as much as I'm a critic of the Russian state,do you think they would have been treated much differently if the protest took place in the Washington National Cathedral or St Pauls?


    Robo-censor strikes again.
     
  7. Scepticalscribe, Aug 20, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2012

    Scepticalscribe thread starter Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #7
    It is a fair question, and I agree with your conclusion in that P**** Riot or someone like them would fall foul of the authorities in the west if such a protest took place in or around a prominent church or sacred space, but I think there are two wider issues of considerable significance here, neither of which apply in the west.

    The first is the almost complete absence in Russia of a public space, or forum, where one can express dissent, or register (public) disapproval of the actions of the state.

    TV is more or less completely controlled by the state, as is radio and the print media with one or two extraordinarily brave exceptions (such as the radio station Ekho Moscovii, and the splendid paper Novaya Gazeta - a number of journalists who have worked for these media have been killed, Anna Politkovskaya is probably the best known of these, but there have been others, too). Elections, as we all know, have been flagrantly fraudulent and blatantly rigged - attempts to draw attention to this and to express disagreement with the outcome have met with a brutal crackdown. Granted, the internet is not yet regulated, and comment is fairly free, but access online is confined mainly to the cities.

    The second point to ponder is the role of the Orthodox Church in Russia. In essence, it is another arm of the State, and has served - for centuries (apart from the interlude of communist rule) as an utterly reactionary bulwark of repressively nationalistic, xenophobic values. Washington National Cathedral and St. Paul's - and the religious bodies that are linked with these buildings - do not carry the same clout politically, let alone socially or culturally as the Orthodox Church does in Russia. The Orthodox Church enjoys incestuously, nay symbiotically, close ties with the state, and has done since Tsarist times. What is happening now is a throw back which panders to the worst instincts of the dark loamy layers of Russian history. For, the Orthodox Church is a profoundly reactionary force; it is anti-modernity in all of its manifestations, anti-liberal, anti-Protestant, anti-Semitic (exceptionally so), anti-women, anti-gay and completely and openly embraces the concept of a repressive autocratic State apparatus as a suitable expression of the Russian body politic and wider society.

    An aside: Originally, the thread title spelt out the name of the group - as a proper noun- in ordinary letters; I hadn't expected to fall foul of the profanity filter when writing about an event, and a group, that are reported in the European media with the full use of their name, as a proper noun.
     
  8. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Location:
    Communard de Londres
    #8
    I don't disagree with what you are saying and think the Russian state and Putin in particular should be criticised at every opportunity.However the tendency to point at "those over there" and their faults should not forget the very similar (not the same but similar) problems faced by the vast majority of people in the countries we live in.The Lords Spiritual still sit in the Hose of Lords (unelected and an anachronism it is but it still wields considerable power) the Queen is "defender of the Faith",the Churches in all three countries wield power (political) out of all proportion to the number of their supporters.So when western corporate media expresses outrage at the behaviour of Russia or China it's as well to remember it will bury (at best) or fully support similar actions in the U.K. or U.S.

    Sorry by the way if I'm assuming your a Brit or European wrongly.
     
  9. Scepticalscribe thread starter Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #9
    I'm not in any way blind to western faults, delusions, mistakes and problems, (I'm an historian and political science teacher by profession), but I felt that many threads on this sub-forum already address western topics. My concern is that the arrest, trial and conviction of P**** Riot was and is a subject that merits discussion here on this forum, and, when I started the thread, I could find no evidence that it was addressed anywhere else.

    Of course, I'm not saying that outmoded religious beliefs and structures lack influence in the western world (and you are perfectly correct, not only am I a European, but, as an Irish person, with Anglophile tendencies, I have personal experience of growing up in a country and society - Ireland - that was not, until recently, a million miles away from having been something approximating to a particularly repellant theocracy in its laws, attitudes and culture), just that they are especially powerful in the current conditions which prevail in Russia.
     
  10. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    CT
    #10
    The penalties are too harsh, but their form of protest was not well thought out either.
     
  11. vrDrew macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Location:
    Midlife, Midwest
    #11
    The harshest prisons are those of our own making.

    Would someone have gotten two years in the nick for making a political protest in Washington National Cathedral, or St. Pauls (London) , or Notre Dame (Paris), or Kaiser Wilhelm (Berlin) Cathedral? Almost certainly not. At worst they might have gotten a small fine for disorderly conduct.

    The (insert colloquial expression for a housecat or woman's genitalia) Riot case is significant for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is their name. Everybody likes (insert colloquial expression for a housecat or woman's genitalia), don't they?

    But more importantly, they've gone a long way to expose to the wider world the creeping revanchist authoritarianism of Putin's Russia.Putin is obviously no Stalin (or even a Kruschev) - but he made his bones in the bad old KGB. And while capitalism (or organized religion) is no longer a crime on the streets of Moscow or St. Petersburg; Russia - and Russians - still seem to have a fondness for the iron hand of dictatorship.
     
  12. Scepticalscribe, Aug 20, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2012

    Scepticalscribe thread starter Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #12
    Yes, but the problem is that virtually any form of protest leads to a heavy - and sometimes brutal crackdown by the police or other authorities. If P**** Riot - or any others - had been permitted to exercise some form of legitimate protest, they might not have felt the need to take the floor in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow.

    More to the point is the sheer, vindictive savagery of the sentence; it is designed to send a pointed message to anyone who might think to offer any sort of public dissent in Russia. And the Orthodox Church is not innocent in this matter; they are an active player in power politics in Russia, and play an especially servile, symbiotic role in their support of the State.

    Now, let me tell another story, this time of a very tasteful, and "very well thought out" political protest, which took place earlier this year.

    Google "Siberian toy protest" and read about a subtle, clever, subversive, and utterly stylish protest (at the conduct and outcome of the fraudulent parliamentary [Duma] elections last December) which took place in one of the less well known cities in Siberia. Deprived of the right to protest peacefully (permission was refused for any meeting in any location in the town), some enlightened citizens sought to mount a protest with toys. Small toys, (such as teddy bears, models of Buzz Lightyear, Wall-E and lego toys, and so on) which carried exquisite little printed and hand-written placards which commented on the elections and their depressing but expected outcome ("Criminals should be in prison, not the Kremlin", "We want clean elections", that sort of thing) were placed in snow-banks in a public park.

    Members of the public strolled by, giggling and photographing the charming little protesters. In turn, the police photographed the pedestrians who viewed this exquisite exhibition.

    Baffled by the lack of a law which would let them deal appropriately with such a threat, the police sought a ruling from the Prosecutor's Office as to how they should proceed. Eventually, after a delay, (and doubtless advice helpfully tendered from Someone, or Someones in the capital, many thousands of long miles far further west), the Prosecutor's Office delivered a ruling, which declared the toy protest illegal, on the fascinating legal grounds that "toys aren't people, or citizens of Russia" (as only "people" or 'citizens' of Russia can legally 'protest', even though all attempts to seek permission for a protest had been denied). Worse still, according to the Prosecutor's Office, was the fact that "foreign toys - not even Russian toys" participated in this protest...........
     
  13. PracticalMac macrumors 68030

    PracticalMac

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2009
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #13
    It is not hard to find similar action to ban or suppress free speech in the US, often lead by conservative Article 2 touting politicians (and on occasion by the other side).

    At my university, after some heated debate between student body and office of chairman, it was decided the best way to handel this was make designated "open speech zones"...

    ...at a remote corner of campus, right next to the very noisy air conditioning system plant.

    I hope Pusshe Riot gets out early.
     
  14. niuniu macrumors 68020

    niuniu

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Location:
    A man of the people. The right sort of people.
    #14
  15. Scepticalscribe thread starter Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #15
    Yes, I have read that and thank you for posting it.

    Former world chess champion - and current opposition activist - Garry Kasparov was arrested last Friday after having been part of a gathering outside the Moscow court which met to protest at the conduct of the trial (no defence witnesses were permitted to testify), the outcome, and, of course the savage sentences which were handed down to the defendants.

    Mr Kasparov was charged with having bitten a police lieutenant 'while resisting arrest' as the time honoured euphemism expresses it. In fact, as police and other videos of the event show, he was snatched, punched and thrown into a police van after speaking outside the courtroom; teeth didn't enter into it, neither his nor those belonging to anyone else, and, initially, it appears the police were unable to tell him with what he had been charged.

    In a piece in today's Moscow Times, he pointed out that while he is now 50 years old, and advised to consume less red meat than before, he does not expect to have acquired a taste for human flesh, 'like a Bengal tiger is said to do'. 'Besides', the former world chess champion added (and I have to admit I just love this quote), "I wouldn't bite anyone under the rank of General".
     
  16. niuniu macrumors 68020

    niuniu

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Location:
    A man of the people. The right sort of people.
    #16
  17. niuniu macrumors 68020

    niuniu

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Location:
    A man of the people. The right sort of people.
    #18
  18. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Location:
    Communard de Londres
  19. Happybunny macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2010
    #20
    One of the major problems over this case, is that support from outside the country can be counter productive.
    Russia today is a very paranoid place, after the fall of the Yeltsin government. These years 1991 to 1999 were traumatic for Russia, the newly won freedoms were squandered when the economic meltdown happened. Later all the problems were placed at the doors of the foreigners, it was foreigners who had pushed through all of the hated reforms.(to steal Russia's wealth, and break Russia's power)

    Just doing business in Russia is difficult enough, because the line between politics and business is very blurred.
     
  20. PracticalMac macrumors 68030

    PracticalMac

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2009
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #21

Share This Page