Tag Archives: Patriarch Kirill

The Coming Russian Nationalist Theocracy

Rumata feels alarmed, as the kingdom is rapidly morphing into a fascist police state.

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ruskline.ru

On March 5, Varya Strizhak’s video “The Imperial Spirit, or, God Save the Tsar!” had its premiere.

Varya Strizak’s video “The Imperial Spirit, or, God Save the Tsar!” had its premiere yesterday, March 5. According to the songstress’s official biography, “Varvara Strizhak was born in Saint Petersburg on December 25, 1999. She is a schoolgirl studying in the seventh form at grammar school. Recording songs and shooting videos is just a hobby, without any pretenses.” We offer readers the video and lyrics to Varya Strizhak’s song “The Imperial Spirit, or, God Save the Tsar!”



Anthem of the Russian Empire (1833–1917)
Words: Vasily Zhukovsky
Music: Alexei Lvov
Words: Vladimir Shemchushenko
Music: Mikhail Chertyshev

1st Verse
The empire cannot die!
I know that the soul does not die.
From one end to another, the empire
Lives, truncated by a third.

1st Refrain
God, protect the Tsar!
Strong and majestic,
Reign for glory,
For our glory!

2nd Verse
A rebellious people’s will and peace
And happiness are mourned.
But my sorrow is of a different kind.
It is consonant with Pushkin’s line.

2nd Refrain
God, protect the Tsar!
Strong and majestic,
Reign for glory,
For our glory!
Reign to foes’ fear,
Orthodox Tsar.
God, protect the Tsar!

3rd Verse
Let the chain clank! Let once again the whip whistle
Over those who are against nature!
The imperial spirit is ineradicable in the people.
The empire cannot die!



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Teenaged Russian imperialist Varya Strizhak (far left) and friends (source)


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Boris Vyshnevsky
The Secular State Is Canceled
Novaya Gazeta
April 10, 2013

The State Duma has passed in the first reading a bill introducing criminal liability for “insulting religious feelings and beliefs.”

It passed the bill despite the harsh criticism it faced from experts, lawyers, and human rights activists when it was introduced six months ago, despite the president’s instructions to improve the bill after an expanded meeting of the Human Rights Council, and despite an alternative bill, drafted by the Council’s legal staff.

The bill voted on by the Duma was exactly the same version that Novaya Gazeta analyzed in its November 6, 2012, issue. It can rightly be seen as contradicting four articles of the Russian Federation Constitution, namely, Article 14 (on the secular state), Article 19 (equality of rights regardless of one’s beliefs and attitudes to religion), Article 28 (freedom of conscience, freedom of choice, and the promotion of religious and other beliefs) and Article 29 (freedom of thought and speech).

There is no doubt that even if the law is upheld in the Constitutional Court, the European Court of Human Rights will reduce it to smithereens, because the relevant PACE resolutions clearly state that freedom of expression cannot and should not be restricted “to meet increasing sensitivities of certain religious groups” or “out of deference to certain dogmas or the beliefs of a particular religious community.”

In fact, restriction of such freedom is the bill’s main goal. One of its authors, United Russia MP Alexander Remezkov, declared this outright in the Duma, saying we “need effective legal instruments against blasphemers, scorners, and sacrilegers.” What kind of “secular state” can there be after such laws are passed?

In a secular state, laws may not contain such terms such as “blasphemy” and “sacrilege.” Blasphemy, if we accurately unpack the term, means insulting a god. Dear legislators, do you acknowledge that gods actually exist? And that the clergy are their legal representatives, authorized to decide what exactly offends their clients and to what degree? What century is this?

If the bill is passed into law, for “publicly insulting the religious feelings and beliefs of citizens, [and] debasing worship services and other religious rituals” you can be imprisoned for up to three years. How many times has the world been told one cannot “insult” someone’s feelings or beliefs! Feelings are an emotional response to one’s environment, while beliefs are conscious positions. They cannot be “insulted”: such “insults” are not objectively verifiable, and therefore they cannot be prohibited, and no one can be punished for violating such a prohibition.

Who will establish in court that someone’s feelings have been “insulted,” and how will they do this? It is impossible to rely solely on the opinion of the “insulted” party, whom nothing will prevent from being “insulted” by anything whatsoever, including the existence in the world of religions other than the one he professes. Finally, it is completely impossible to “insult” or “debase” worship services or religious practices, since they are altogether inanimate things.

What the bill, if passed, will mean in practice is clear: sanctioned persecution of any criticism of any religion and the relevant clerical authorities, who love teaching others “spirituality” and “morality.” I wonder whether people will be punished for reading Russian folk tales, which feature greedy priests and stupid sextons? Or for repeating sayings like “like priest, like parish” or “force a fool to pray to God” [i.e., “give someone enough rope”]?

This, of course, might seem ridiculous, but will soon be no laughing matter: essentially, a ban is being introduced banning the promotion of atheist views and the expression of such opinions as unacceptable to the newest group of permanently “insulted believers.” On the other hand, for burning books they do not like, something a group of Orthodox zealots did a month ago outside the offices of the Yabloko party, believers are not threatened by this law. Just like the scoundrel with the title of professor who publicly called atheists “sick animals that should be cured”: the feelings of non-believers are not subject to protection. After all, despite the fact that Article 19 of the Constitution stipulates the equality of rights and freedoms of man and citizen, regardless of one’s belief and attitudes toward religion, the bill puts believers in a privileged position vis-à-vis non-believers, introducing special protection for their feelings and beliefs.

All these things cannot exist in a secular state on principle, and the shameful law on its way to passage by the State Duma should be understood as overturning this constitutional principle.

However, we are moving down this road step by step. Its milestones include bans on exhibitions or performances that don’t catch the fancy of religious fanatics. And the ceremonial consecration of tap water. And requirements to teach creationism in schools alongside evolutionary theory. And the creation of a Department of Orthodox Culture at the Strategic Missile Forces Academy. And the adoption of laws for the punishment of “promotion of homosexuality,” based on quotations from the Old Testament and curses against “sodomites” and “perverts.” And, contrary to law, the obligatory introduction in schools of the subject known as “Orthodox culture” (as was said at the school my youngest son attends, “as recommended by the Patriarch”). And “Orthodox banner bearers,” “people’s councils,” “Cossacks,” and other characters, more reminiscent of the gray storm troopers from the novel Hard to Be a God.

Do you remember how the book ends? “Wherever Graydom triumphs, the blackbirds will always seize power.”

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IMAG0888

“I offend your religious feelings.” Graffiti on wall.
Printer Grigoriyev Street, 1, Petrograd. November 25, 2012. Photo by Chtodelat News

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Feminism is a “very dangerous” phenomenon that could lead to the destruction of Russia, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church has said.

“I consider this phenomenon called feminism very dangerous, because feminist organisations proclaim the pseudo-freedom of women, which, in the first place, must appear outside of marriage and outside of the family,” said Patriarch Kirill, according to the Interfax news agency.

“Man has his gaze turned outward – he must work, make money – and woman must be focused inwards, where her children are, where her home is,” Kirill said. “If this incredibly important function of women is destroyed then everything will be destroyed – the family and, if you wish, the motherland.”

“It’s not for nothing that we call Russia the motherland,” he said. . . .

source: www.guardian.co.uk

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Kremlin Backs Law Protecting Religious Sentiment – Spokesman

ULAN-UDE, April 11 (RIA Novosti) – The Kremlin favors the idea of adopting a law protecting the religious feelings of Russian citizens, the Russian presidential spokesman said Thursday.

Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, passed the bill in the first reading on Tuesday.

“The Kremlin supports the idea of the law, and the wording of the law is up to the lawyers,” Dmitry Peskov said. “The law is very difficult to enforce but it is absolutely essential in this multi-national and multi-confessional country,” he said.

Peskov failed to answer a journalist’s question on how a person could be punished in Russia for desecrating a holy site, saying “this is a judicial practice issue.”

The first deputy of the State Duma Committee on Affairs of Public Associations and Religious Organizations, Mikhail Markelov, said some 80 percent of Russians support the law, according to an opinion poll.

Under the draft document, those who offend religious feelings at church services and ceremonies face up to three years in jail, fines of up to 300,000 rubles ($9,700) or 200 hours of compulsory community service.

Those Russians who insult religious feelings at holy sites face up to five years in jail, fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($16,500) or 400 hours of compulsory community service, the document says.

The bill was submitted for consideration in the State Duma in September 2012. The idea of introducing punishment for offending religious feelings came after members of the female band Pussy Riot performed an anti-Kremlin “punk prayer” at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral last February.

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Editor’s Note. This posting was updated on April 13, 2013.

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Yekaterina Samutsevich: Closing Statement at the Pussy Riot Trial

Yekaterina Samutsevich, defendant in the criminal case against the feminist punk group Pussy Riot:

In the closing statement, the defendant is expected to repent, express regret for their deeds or enumerate attenuating circumstances. In my case, as in the case of my colleagues in the group, this is completely unnecessary. Instead, I want to voice my thoughts about the reasons behind what has happened to us.

That Christ the Savior Cathedral had become a significant symbol in the political strategy of the authorities was clear to many thinking people when Vladimir Putin’s former [KGB] colleague Kirill Gundyayev took over as leader of the Russian Orthodox Church. After this happened, Christ the Savior Cathedral began to be openly used as a flashy backdrop for the politics of the security forces, which are the main source of power [in Russia].

Why did Putin feel the need to exploit the Orthodox religion and its aesthetic? After all, he could have employed his own, far more secular tools of power—for example, the state-controlled corporations, or his menacing police system, or his obedient judiciary system. It may be that the harsh, failed policies of Putin’s government, the incident with the submarine Kursk, bombings of civilians in broad daylight, and other unpleasant moments in his political career forced him to ponder the fact that it was high time to resign; that otherwise, the citizens of Russia would help him do this. Apparently, it was then that he felt the need for more persuasive, transcendental guarantees of his long tenure at the pinnacle of power. It was then that it became necessary to make use of the aesthetic of the Orthodox religion, which is historically 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.

How did he succeed in doing this? After all, we still have a secular state, and any intersection of the religious and political spheres should be dealt with severely by our vigilant and critically minded society, shouldn’t it? Here, apparently, the authorities took advantage of a certain deficit of the Orthodox aesthetic in Soviet times, when the Orthodox religion had an aura of lost history, of something that had been crushed and damaged by the Soviet totalitarian regime, and was thus an opposition culture. The authorities decided to appropriate this historical effect of loss and present a new political project to restore Russia’s lost spiritual values, a project that has little to do with a genuine concern for the preservation of Russian Orthodoxy’s history and culture.

It was also fairly logical that the Russian Orthodox Church, given its long mystical ties to power, emerged as the project’s principal exponent in the media. It was decided that, unlike in the Soviet era, when the church opposed, above all, the brutality of the authorities towards history itself, the Russian Orthodox Church should now confront all pernicious manifestations of contemporary mass culture with its concept of diversity and tolerance.

Implementing this thoroughly interesting political project has required considerable quantities of professional lighting and video equipment, air time on national TV channels for hours-long live broadcasts, and numerous background shoots for morally and ethically edifying news stories, where the Patriarch’s well-constructed speeches would in fact be presented, thus helping the faithful make the correct political choice during the difficult time for Putin preceding the election. Moreover, the filming must be continuous; the necessary images must be burned into the memory and constantly updated; they must create the impression of something natural, constant and compulsory.

Our sudden musical appearance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior with the song “Mother of God, Drive Putin Out” violated the integrity of the media image that the authorities had spent such a long time generating and maintaining, and revealed its falsity. In our performance we dared, without the Patriarch’s blessing, to unite the visual imagery of Orthodox culture and that of protest culture, thus suggesting to smart people that Orthodox culture belongs not only to the Russian Orthodox Church, the Patriarch and Putin, that it could also ally itself with civic rebellion and the spirit of protest in Russia.

Perhaps the unpleasant, far-reaching effect from our media intrusion into the cathedral was a surprise to the authorities themselves. At first, they tried to present our performance as a prank pulled by heartless, militant atheists. This was a serious blunder on their part, because by then we were already known as an anti-Putin feminist punk band that carried out their media assaults on the country’s major political symbols.

In the end, considering all the irreversible political and symbolic losses caused by our innocent creativity, the authorities decided to protect the public from us and our nonconformist thinking. Thus ended our complicated punk adventure in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

I now have mixed feelings about this trial. On the one hand, we expect a guilty verdict. Compared to the judicial machine, we are nobodies, and we have lost. On the other hand, we have won. The whole world now sees that the criminal case against us has been fabricated. The system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial. Once again, the world sees Russia differently from the way Putin tries to present it at his daily international meetings. Clearly, none of the steps Putin promised to take toward instituting the rule of law have been taken. And his statement that this court will be objective and hand down a fair verdict is yet another deception of the entire country and the international community. That is all. Thank you.

• • • • • •

Photo courtesy of Alexandra Astakhova. Original text in Russian published here. You can view video of the closing statements by Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova here and here (in Russian).

This translation was slightly revised on August 13 for republication elsewhere.

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Maria Alyokhina: “Our protest has raised the issue of the fusion of the Russian Orthodox Church and the security services”

Zoya Svetova
Maria Alyokhina to The New Times: “Our protest has raised the issue of the fusion of the Russian Orthodox Church and the security services”
newtimes.ru

The three defendants in the Pussy Riot case have been held more than five months at Pre-Trial Detention Facility No. 6, near Pechatniki metro station. The prison is dubbed the “Yellow House” [in Russian, a synonym for an insane asylum] because of the color of the towers in which it is situated. This past weekend, a New Times correspondent was able to talk with [three of] its prisoners—Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

24-year-old Masha Alyokhina sits on an iron bunk dressed in the same brown polka-dot dress in which she goes to court. On her feet are flip-flops that are clearly too large. She is preparing for an hour-long walk: the guards have promised to take her outside, as they are supposed to after lunch. She answers our questions in detail and good-naturedly. She chooses her words carefully so that she is properly understood.

During the trial, you filed an appeal over the torturous conditions of your transportation to court. What did you mean?

We have been taken to court every day since July 20. We are given no breakfast. We drink tea while waiting for the paddy wagon. We are returned to the jail very late and managed to sleep four hours or so, no more. I am horribly exhausted. Before we’re put in the paddy wagon, our blood pressure is measured. The last few days my blood pressure has been ninety over sixty, while it is usually one twenty over eighty. As a rule, the trip to the Khamovnichesky District Court takes thirty minutes to an hour, depending on the traffic jams. We’re transported differently every time—now in big vans, now in little ones. We are taken to the court building, where we spend twelve hours a day. The judge orders a lunch break—half an hour. Two times a day we’re taken to the toilet for five minutes. We have no complaints with the jail, only with the judge. Judge Syrova doesn’t give us a normal break either for lunch or dinner. I demand that the break last an hour. According to the Criminal Procedural Code, a court hearing cannot last more than eight hours [a day], but in our case all the norms in the code are being violated. I don’t even have time to eat the dry cereal that I pour boiling water over in the escort guards’ room. We spend all day in court, and I don’t have the chance to take a shower, although I’ve paid for the paid shower. The bursar has the receipts, but he is incapable of sending them to the prison’s administrative office. It is very hot in the paddy wagon, like in a microwave. It can take us several hours to drive from the courthouse to the jail. We don’t drive directly to our prison, but stop by Moscow City Court and Matrosskaya Tishina prison, where we drop off prisoners, and we arrive in Pechatniki quite late. So sometimes we’re riding around for three or four hours.

A Rottweiler accompanies you everywhere. It is even present during the court hearings. Aren’t you afraid of it?

I am afraid. The dogs are constantly changed. On Friday, a very nasty, aggressive dog, a mentally unbalanced dog, guarded us. The dog is also with us in the guards’ room at the courthouse. For example, I ask to be taken from the cell to the toilet: the dog almost jumps its leash, and the dog handler has to make a huge effort to restraint it. You can imagine that if the dog handler didn’t restrain it, it could easily rip me to shreds. The guards explained to us that the dog can tell from the color of our clothes and our scent that we’re prisoners, and so it is particularly aggressive towards us.

How do you feel about what is happening in the trial?

The judge tosses out all our appeals and ignores our requests. She allows herself gibes that demean our honor and dignity. We are not given confidential meetings with our lawyers. This is done to prevent us from working out a joint defense. On the morning of July 27 we were brought to the Khamovnichesky District Court, [where] we signed a document: Judge Marina Syrova had permitted us to meet with our lawyers. But instead of taking us back to the jail to meet with our lawyers, we were first held in the guards’ room at the courthouse, and then for some reason taken to Moscow City Court. We ended up at Pre-Trial Detention Facility No. 6 only at 4:30 p.m. This was a Friday, and so there short visiting hours at the jail. Lawyer Mark Feygin was there and was able to talk with Nadya Tolokonnikova for literally twenty minutes. But neither Katya Samutsevich nor I was able to meet with our lawyers.

Maria Alyokhina on trial, August 6, Moscow. Drawing by Victoria Lomasko

During the trial you asked the injured parties whether they forgive you. Why is this so important to you?

A few months ago I wrote a conciliatory letter, in which I stated that I wanted a dialogue. I wrote that our performance was not directed against the Christian faith. Through our lawyers I asked that a priest come visit me in prison. I would really like to talk with Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev, who, for example, in an interview with Novaya Gazeta said some people from the Kremlin had commissioned our action. This really got to me. I would like to explain to him that we are not people who have been “commissioned.” This is an action that comes from the grassroots.

Is your punk prayer, which lasted a little longer than five minutes, worth five months of imprisonment in jail and separation from loved ones?

Yes, I think it’s worth it. It seems to me that the power vertical system in each institution has to be disclosed and have light shed on it publicly. And it’s very important that each stage of our case is analyzed in detail, because it gives people an idea of how the prisons, the courts and transparency [glasnost] work. It becomes clear whether civil society can influence the authorities.

The situation we created with our protest action helps people understand more precisely for themselves the fusion of the institution of the [Russian Orthodox] Church and the security services, of the Church and the authorities, of the Church and Putin. It has all come to the surface.

Can civil society influence the verdict?

I don’t know.

Is this a political trial, in your view?

Yes, but the political aspect is deliberately hushed up at the trial. The judge and the prosecutor have a very violent reaction any time the surname “Putin” is uttered. Although questions about Putin have a direct bearing on the case, because all our group’s actions were political.

A witness named Motilda Ivashchenko was supposed to testify during the trial. At the last minute, before she was summoned into the courtroom, she got frightened and ran way. Do you know her?

I don’t know her very well. We have two mutual acquaintances. I was really offended that she told the investigation that, allegedly, I don’t take care of my son Filipp. In the case files there is testimony by kindergarten workers that I pick[ed] up my son every evening myself.

What do you think the verdict will be?

I am counting on the reasonableness of the authorities, the court and the Russian Orthodox Church, which is obliged to react to our criminal prosecution. The fact that the Russian Orthodox Church is silent [on this point] is a blow to its authority. Christ’s first commandment, after all, is to love your neighbor as yourself. If the priests who signed letters in our defense would testify at the trial, that would be very important.

What message would you like to send to your supporters?

Thank you for your support. Mutual understanding is quite important: one needs to pursue constructive things. Cooperation is vitally important. Look at our example: it shows that a few people can raise an issue that is then widely discussed in society. And this discussion is much more important than the tons of filth that have been poured on us. We are accused of misleading people. But the people who accuse of this are themselves involved in misleading people. The Russian Orthodox Church has a monopoly on talking about God and any dissent is criminalized.

What will you do when you get out of prison?

When I get out, I’ll have a story to tell. And if I’m sent to prison for a long time, I’ll also have a story to tell. It’s very important to tell this whole story.

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“The True Blasphemy”: Slavoj Žižek on Pussy Riot

The True Blasphemy

Pussy Riot members accused of blasphemy and hatred of religion? The answer is easy: the true blasphemy is the state accusation itself, formulating as a crime of religious hatred something which was clearly a political act of protest against the ruling clique. Recall Brecht’s old quip from his Beggars’ Opera: “What is the robbing of a bank compared to the founding of a new bank?” In 2008, Wall Street gave us the new version: what is the stealing of a couple of thousand of dollars, for which one goes to prison, compared to financial speculations that deprive tens of millions of their homes and savings, and are then rewarded by state help of sublime grandeur? Now, we got another version from Russia, from the power of the state: What is a modest Pussy Riot obscene provocation in a church compared to the accusation against Pussy Riot, this gigantic obscene provocation of the state apparatus which mocks any notion of decent law and order?

Was the act of Pussy Riot cynical? There are two kinds of cynicism: the bitter cynicism of the oppressed which unmasks the hypocrisy of those in power, and the cynicism of the oppressors themselves who openly violate their own proclaimed principles. The cynicism of Pussy Riot is of the first kind, while the cynicism of those in power — why not call their authoritarian brutality a Prick Riot — is of the much more ominous second kind.

Back in 1905, Leon Trotsky characterized tsarist Russia as “a vicious combination of the Asian knout and the European stock market.” Does this designation not hold more and more also for the Russia of today? Does it not announce the rise of the new phase of capitalism, capitalism with Asian values (which, of course, has nothing to do with Asia and everything to do with the anti-democratic tendencies in today’s global capitalism). If we understand cynicism as ruthless pragmatism of power which secretly laughs at its own principles, then Pussy Riot are anti-cynicism embodied. Their message is: IDEAS MATTER. They are conceptual artists in the noblest sense of the word: artists who embody an Idea. This is why they wear balaclavas: masks of de-individualization, of liberating anonymity. The message of their balaclavas is that it doesn’t matter which of them got arrested — they’re not individuals, they’re an Idea. And this is why they are such a threat: it is easy to imprison individuals, but try to imprison an Idea!

The panic of those in power — displayed by their ridiculously excessive brutal reaction — is thus fully justified. The more brutally they act, the more important symbol Pussy Riot will become. Already now the result of the oppressive measures is that Pussy Riot are a household name literally all around the world.

It is the sacred duty of all of us to prevent that the courageous individuals who compose Pussy Riot will not pay in their flesh the price for their becoming a global symbol.

Slavoj Žižek

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Live at the Witch Trials

It turns out that RAPSI, the Russian Legal Information Agency, has been live texting the Pussy Riot trial in Moscow since day two. Here are some highlights, so to speak, from yesterday’s hearing:

21:09 The judge is reading the investigative materials aloud, certifying that Tolokonnikova is not enrolled in a psychiatric or neurological clinic, that she has not stood trial before in her life. Tolokonnikova’s biographical information sheet from Moscow State University’s philosophy faculty is fairly uninformative. It contains evaluations, information about her maternity life, and her voluntary departure from school. It was noted that while studying, she didn’t have any conflicts with students or professors, but the Interior Ministry did request information about her twice. Maria Alyokhina’s university characterized her as a diligent, creative student. Samutsevich’s protocols are now being read aloud. According to the document, when arrested she had on dirty jeans and dirty shoes, didn’t have a trace of cosmetics on her face, and her hair was not dyed.

[…]

19:21 The judge has read out the results of psychological and linguistic examination of the Pussy Riot performance. The experts administering the examination found that the actions taken by the girls were not symbolic of a desire to incite animosity or hatred toward any given group of people. The same experts found no evidence of hostility toward Orthodox Christianity in Pussy Riot’s punk prayer. In the lyrics of the song – which are available on the group’s website – they, however, detected signs of hostility toward clergymen and heretics. These experts have diagnosed all three of the Pussy Riot girls with personality disorders. Still, the experts maintain that the girls are sane – noting that they should be held responsible for their decisions, and that they do not require psychological treatment.

[…]

17:27 The judge has reprimanded Pussy Riot’s defense team for not having reviewed all the materials on the case. [There are 8 volumes and 2,500 pages].

17:13 Pussy Riot defense lawyer Nikolai Polozov says that another witness has arrived, but was refused admission into the courtroom. Polozov was reprimanded for going outside to meet him.

[…]

14:56 As it turns out, an investigator previously interrogated the elder Samutsevich. The prosecutor requested permission to read the testimony produced during the interrogation aloud. Apparently therein lie the answers to all of the questions he refused to answer in court, based on his right not to testify against his daughter. The defense objected. As usual, the judge sided with the prosecution. It follows from the interrogatory testimony that according to the elder Samutsevich, Tolokonnikova sucked his daughter into the so-called feminist movement. “I denounce the very idea of feminism in Russia, because Russian culture is entirely different from that of the West. More of our women work- often in high-ranking positions.”

[…]

10:33 The Pussy Riot girls have arrived. Today they have a different accompanying security convoy. Whereas yesterday they were guarded by a rottweiler, today they’re being guarded by a sheepdog.

Thanks to Sergey Chernov for the heads-up and Sergei Y. for the image.

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Nadezhda Tolokonnikova: “I have a tremendous urge to feel”

Oksana Baulina
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova: “I have a tremendous urge to feel”
www.colta.ru
August 1, 2012

The most famous member of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot at the moment of their arrest, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has already spent five months in Pre-Trial Detention Facility No. 6 in Moscow’s Pechatniki district. The outer walls of the three-storey prison building, on Shosseinaya Street, are windowless: the cell windows face the courtyard, thus ruling out even visual contact with the outside world. This has earned No. 6 the nickname “the Bastille.” When a few weeks ago I sent questions for Nadya, bypassing the Federal Penitentiary Service’s censored correspondence system, I was not sure that I would get a reply. A reply came, however, literally on the eve of the scandalous trial in the Khamovnichesky District Court.

— What reactions, actions and opinions surrounding your case have surprised you (both positively and negatively)?

— It hurts that there are still a good number of sincere, decent Orthodox people who believe we did something awful with our prayer in the temple. There are such people even amongst those who are firmly opposed to our arrest. Although we have been explaining for five months what this was about, it is painful that there are smart, decent people who see something in what we did that is not there and could not have been there.

I am glad that the greater part of thinking society has rallied around our cause, from the letter signed by two hundred cultural figures in our defense and the desperate hunger strikes of the Occupy the Court activists to the fantastic gestures of support from Faith No More, Franz Ferdinand and Red Hot Chili Peppers. We are extremely grateful to everyone, and I’m sorry we cannot say an individual thank you to everyone due to the cell bars between us. Thanks to all of you, life in a Russian prison is not so bitter!

— What have you learned about yourself, about society, about the state during your time in jail? Have you changed?

— The state and society behave like in a textbook on leftist theory: the state punishes and represses, while society resists and changes. Behind bars you see theory coming to life. All that remains is the desire to be, to grow and to give, to share. I want prison ecstasies, epiphanies and revelations about freedom, the lack of freedom and which of these a person needs more for his or her development. I have a tremendous urge to think and feel: in the absence of external stimuli, one’s inner life develops at a furious pace.

— Who are you? How do you define yourself—as a political activist, an artist, a prisoner of conscience, a feminist, a musician?

— A person should be described from various perspectives, but it is his task to escape this description by expanding and redefining the terms used to define him. Hardly anyone expected that feminism in Russia—and even in the world to some extent—would be associated in 2012 with balaclavas, bright clothes and punk music.

— Why, in your view, does the patriarchal model, the vertical model enjoy support in society?

— Man is by nature conservative, and it is more convenient for him to cling desperately to the familiar. Very few people are ready to break and remake what exists in order to change reality. People fear the unknown, and if a woman sees herself as nothing but an appendage to a man, it is quite hard for her to imagine another world and a different relationship.

— How does feminism benefit society? How do you imagine the ideal social order?

— As a Scandinavian social democracy with minimal government interference in the lives of those who want to shield themselves from the state and, simultaneously, strong social support for those who need it and are willing to cooperate with the state. As a society that cares about issues of gender equality, where a male government minister can go on paternity leave, as law enforcement ministers love to do in Finland, for example. There is nothing more natural than feminism. Feminism begins in the third grade, when you realize that all textbooks and clever books are written by boys for boys.

— How do you explain the clericalization of society?

— There is no clericalization. There is Putin, who allows law enforcement authorities to trample all conceivable legal norms and reference fourth-century church councils that forbade taking baths and communicating with Jews. And there is Vsevolod Chaplin, who with the patriarch’s blessing makes shocking, artistic statements and admires the Islamic Republic of Iran. There is no clericalization at all beyond the actions and speeches of these two characters. What clericalization can there be in a society where twenty years ago “scientific atheism” was a compulsory subject in universities?

— What events that have happened since you’ve been in jail do you especially regret not being able to witness and participate in?

— May 6 on Bolotnaya Square and Bolshoi Kamenny Bridge, of course! Then it became clear that in Russia and Moscow there are many thousands of people who are willing to fiercely defend their lives and their future, even if this means directly clashing with the savage riot police.

It was sad to watch stories about May 6 on TV and, even worse, to realize that society does not have the strength to defend the people unlawfully arrested because of these events. Society is still weak, and it’s very, very sad, and so the authorities are not afraid to continue the arrests.

— What do you regret?

— The fact that the books sent to us by our friends end up in the prison warehouse, not in our cells, because of the maliciousness of the authorities at Pre-Trial Detention Facility No. 6. So you end up reading the Bible and Russian revolutionary classics—Tolstoy’s current affairs pieces and Alexander Herzen. But I also want books from the twentieth century!

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Filed under feminism, gay rights, international affairs, interviews, political repression, Russian society

Anti-Flag Release Song in Support of Pussy Riot

anti-flag.com

Dear Friends and Family,

Punk rock is much more than a t-shirt, a sound, a record, or a band, and it knows no borders or nationality. Punk rock is a community and a family that spans around the globe. By now you may have heard that three members of our community, three young women who are members of the band Pussy Riot, are being detained by the Russian authorities for performing their protest song ‘Virgin Mary, redeem us of Putin’ in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral on 21 February 2012.  The three have been charged with “hooliganism” under Article 213 of the Russian Criminal Code. If found guilty, they could be jailed for up to seven years.

Pussy Riot embody the spirit of punk rock which speaks truth to power that inspired the members of Anti-Flag to start our band and dedicate ourselves to the punk rock community and the planet. The Russian authority’s actions against Pussy Riot are clearly an attack on freedom of thought, opinion and artistic expression which must be protected for any society to be free. Anti-Flag calls for the immediate release of Pussy Riot and all prisoners of conscience. Whether it be trumped up charges levied by police against Occupy protestors, or the trumped up charges levied by the Russian authorities against the members of Pussy Riot, there is no difference in the police-state tactics that those in power will stoop to in order to oppress those who are willing fight for equality and justice for all, not just the wealthy few.

We need everyone’s help in this fight! We are trying to help in our small way by releasing this cover of Pussy Riot’s ‘Virgin Mary, redeem us of Putin’ in order to raise awareness.

Here are some ways you can help…

-Spread the word to your friends and family about Pussy Riot’s unjust incarceration.

-DONATE!!! Pussy Riot need money for their legal defense fund! No amount is too small or too large. http://freepussyriot.org/de/node/65

-TAKE ACTION with Amnesty International! Help Amnesty tell the Russian authorities to drop all charges and release Pussy Riot! http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/ActionItem.aspx?c=6oJCLQPAJiJUG&b=6645049&aid=517749

“…The song calls on Virgin Mary to become a feminist and banish Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin. It also criticises the dedication and support shown to President-elect Vladimir Putin by some representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church. The performance was part of wider protests against Putin and unfair elections in Russia. This, and the anti-clerical, anti-Putin content of the song’s message, appears to have been reflected in the severity of the charges that have been brought against the three women.” -Amnesty International

For more information please visit freepussyriot.org
In Solidarity, Anti-Flag

ANTI-FLAG: PUNK-PRAYER “Virgin Mary, redeem us of Putin” (Pussy Riot Cover) by antiflag

Lyrics to Punk-Prayer “Virgin Mary, Put Putin Away” by PUSSY RIOT
http://freepussyriot.org/content/lyrics-songs-pussy-riot

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Filed under open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, protests, Russian society