Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is the original virtue: Pussy Riot and the Suppression of the Political Voice. (updated!)

Posted: July 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

Nearly five months after being detained and held in prison for the poignant and scathing performance of an anti-Putin “punk prayer” inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, three members of the seven member Art Performance/punk band Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich went on trial (Monday July 30, 2012).

The politically motivated “Punk Prayer” (modelled after the moleben, a prayer of supplication or intercession prayer addressed to the Virgin Mary) was a performance piece carried out by the members of pussy riot through a short occupation of the front of cathedral (note: this was not during a service!), and the performance of a frenetic musical setpiece, to underline the problematic ties between Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the Orthodox Church.  Explaining the intent of the political action the three in a public statement noted that though they had no intention of insulting Russian Orthodoxy, which forms the largest religious group of the country, the performance was to highlight the repressive and manipulative ties coupling the church’s leader, Patriarch Kirill, with Putin and his bid for election.

Pussy Riot, “Putin Prayer” Performance 2012

“Our goal was to bring attention to Father Kirill’s public statements that the Orthodox must vote for Putin,” Alyokhina’s court statement explained. And she further collapsed the notion of reglious hooiganism by noting :. “I’m Orthodox but hold different political views and my question is: how am I to be?….”I thought the church loved its children. It turns out the church only loves those children who believe in Putin.”

Tolokonnikova’s letter to the court (read out to the court via their attorney in the case, Violetta Volkova) went on to explain the action as “just reacting to what’s happening in our country, and (we) use punk performances to express the opinion and mood of a rather large amount of people,”

Yekaterina Samutsevich’s statement to the court went directly to the point and noted that the continued detention and trial against herself and those members of Pussy Riot on trail were in fact the perpetuation of a larger campaign staged by the authorities to reduce ordinary citizenry’s viability and potentuality for direct political activity. “I see it as the start of a campaign of authoritative repressive measures aimed at reducing citizens’ political activity and instilling the sense of fear among citizens actively involved in politics.”

Video of “Putin Prayer” Intervention/Performance, Pussy Riot, 2012

 Text of: PUNK MOLEBEN – VIRGIN MARY PUT PUTIN AWAY

(chorus)
O Virgin Mother of God, put Putin away
Рut Putin away, put Putin away
(end chorus)

Black robe, golden epaulettes
All parishioners crawl to bow
The phantom of liberty is in heaven
Gay-pride sent to Siberia in chains

The head of the KGB, their chief saint,
Leads protesters to prison under escort
In order not to offend His Holiness
Women must give birth and love

Shit, shit, the Lord’s shit!
Shit, shit, the Lord’s shit!

(chorus)
O Virgin Mother of God, become a feminist
Become a feminist, become a feminist
(end chorus)

The Church’s praise of rotten dictators
The cross-bearer procession of black limousines
A teacher-preacher will meet you at school
Go to class – bring him money!

Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin
Bitch, better believe in God instead
The belt of the Virgin can’t replace mass-meetings
Mary, Mother of God, is with us in protest!

(Chorus)
O Virgin Mother of God, put Putin away
Рut Putin away, put Putin away
(end chorus)

Since their arrest in March these three members have been held in captivity by the Russian Authorities.  The three incarcerated members have been  acknowledged to be political prisoners by the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners (SPP) and  Amnesty International, in an open letter, have recognized them to be prisoners of conscience due to the overt severity of the response of the Russian authorities regarding both their incarceration since the arrests (which will be extended to January 2013 per this writing) and the possibility of a seven year jail term if found guilty of the charges.  Pen International (a group defending freedom of expression) has called for the release of the members of Pussy Riot, and has sent an open letter to Putin supporting the three on trail and the political expression of the performance.

Some Sites to visit!

You can see FreeMuses call for a free and open Trail for the members of Pussy Riot at the site, all that is banned is desired, here.

The Guardian’s editoral question about authoritarian leaders and the persecution of Pussy Riot here.

Feministing’s Jos has a brief summary of the start of the trial and some more quotes from the members at their site here.

And, naturally the Free Pussy Riot Site, lots of interesting things here, including who supports the group and the members on trail.

_________________________________

Update:

On the third day of the Pussy Riot trial in Russian a slew of articles have been published in the press about the consequences and indications about the trial for the power structure of contemporary russia.  Below are a number of links about issues exposed by the trail, but first a few comments layed out by Vsevolod Chaplin , top official and spokesman for the Eastern Orthodox Church, to the Guardian yesterday regarding “God’s judgement” (not the state or legal systems) on Pussy Riot and their protest:

Forgiving the act (Pussy Riot members, at the first day of the trial, apologized for any hurt religious feelings regarding the performance, and clarified that they only meant the act to underline the patriarch’s use of the church to legitimize Putin while denouncing those against him. Two weeks before Pussy Riot’s performance, and the election, the head of the church stated that the Putin era was “a miracle of God”): “Their words had a double meaning, Any acceptance of a mistake is a step in the right direction. But they also insulted the patriarch, who is a symbol of the church. For me, as a priest and a Christian, what’s important is that a sin was committed, that many people were hurt by these actions.”

What the “Punk Prayer” called for and why we shouldn’t like it: “When symbols are overthrown, and others are put in their stead, people want to say: we’ve taken power here. All these acts around symbols are attempts to redistribute power.”

What the Church wants us to know (and what the Pussy Riot performance came to show):  “For the Orthodox believer, like for Muslims, of course the authorities and the church are understood as one thing, Our ideal is the unity of the church and the authorities, and unity of the people and the authorities.”

Separation of Powers (we don’t need no stinking separation of powers): “I think attempts in the west to separate the spiritual sphere and secular sphere is a historical mistake”

And So what did we find out from the  first days of the Girl Riot Trial? “… the point of the trial is not to establish guilt or innocence, or even to elicit an apology or an admission from the accused. The point is to show that the women are “other”. Which is why the judge asked one of the witnesses whether the accused “crossed themselves in the manner that all citizens do”.                     The Guardian begins to note what the action means for Russia’s future.New Hope for Russia? The Legal System and The Russian State. Grrrl Riot and Pussy Riot as political act.

BBC talks about the Debate engendered by the Trail and Incarcerations

Sydney Brownstone at Mother Jones gives a summary and explanation of what is at stake.

Follow a great share of stories regarding the unfolding debate and trail at RIA Novosti ‘s English news site here

Comments
  1. […] Hap Stance Dep Art – 31 July 2012: Pussy Riot and the Suppression of the Political Voice […]

  2. Dalvânia says:

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  3. Maaretta says:

    Hey, thanks for the info. Yikes, pretty scary about the whole situation.

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