a flashy setting for the politics of the security services: Pussy Riot Sentence in the Secular State to Religious Hooliganism

Posted: August 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

Pussy Riot Releases a new single called “Putin Lights Up the Fires” some days after being sentenced to prison for two years regarding their “Religious Hooliganism”.  The Guardian takes the song and edits it with footage from the performance which became the focus of the show trail: Check out the video/Song here.

From the NYT regarding the two year sentence for Pussy Riot: V:  “Russian Band Given 2-Year Term for Stunt Deriding Putin

A Moscow judge handed down stiff prison sentences of two years on Friday afternoon for three young women who staged a protest against Vladimir V. Putin in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior last February and whose jailing and trial on hooliganism charges have generated worldwide criticism of constraints on political speech in Russia

While a guilty verdict against the three women, members of a band called Pussy Riot, was widely expected, suspense had built over how severe a punishment they would receive. Prosecutors had demanded three-year prison terms, but President Putin had weighed in on the side of leniency. …

The case has become a touchstone in the political conflict that began in Russia after disputed parliamentary elections last December. That is partly because of the sympathetic appearance of the defendants — two are mothers of young children — partly because their group uses music to carry its message, and because it has pitted them against a united power-structure: the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church.

As the judge read the lengthy verdict, hundreds of demonstrators had gathered outside the courthouse and shouted, “Free Pussy Riot!” …

Near the start of the highly anticipated proceedings, the judge said that Pussy Riot’s so-called punk prayer in Moscow’s main cathedral had amounted to the crime of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. She repeated that charge on Friday in her verdict. Because the women acted as a group, the maximum sentence under the law is seven years in prison….

As the trial opened, the women — Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, and Maria Alyokhina, 24 — apologized, saying they had never intended to offend the Orthodox Church but rather sought to make a political statement against Mr. Putin and against the church patriarch, Kirill I, for supporting Mr. Putin in his campaign for a third term as president.

And the the powerful closing statement of Yekaterina Samutsevich at the last day of the trial:

The fact that Christ the Savior Cathedral had become a significant symbol in the political strategy of our powers that be was already clear to many thinking people when Vladimir Putin’s former [KGB] colleague Kirill Gundyaev took over as head of the Russian Orthodox Church. After this happened, Christ the Savior Cathedral began to be used openly as a flashy setting for the politics of the security services, which are the main source of power [in Russia].

Why did Putin feel the need to exploit the Orthodox religion and its aesthetics? After all, he could have employed his own, far more secular tools of power—for example, national corporations, or his menacing police system, or his own obedient judiciary system. It may be that the tough, failed policies of Putin’s government, the incident with the submarine Kursk, the 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; otherwise, the citizens of Russia would help him do this. Apparently, it was then that he felt the need for more convincing, transcendental guarantees of his long tenure at the helm. It was here that the need arose to make use of the aesthetics of the Orthodox religion, 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 shouldn’t any intersection of the religious and political spheres be dealt with severely by our vigilant and critically minded society? Here, apparently, the authorities took advantage of a certain deficit of Orthodox aesthetics in Soviet times, when the Orthodox religion had the aura of a lost history, of something 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 their new political project to restore Russia’s lost spiritual values, a project which has little to do with a genuine concern for preservation of Russian Orthodoxy’s history and culture.

It was also fairly logical that the Russian Orthodox Church, which has long had a mystical connection with power, emerged as this project’s principal executor in the media. Moreover, it was also agreed that the Russian Orthodox Church, unlike the Soviet era, when the church opposed, above all, the crudeness of the authorities towards history itself, should also confront all baleful manifestations of contemporary mass culture, with its concept of diversity and tolerance.

Read the whole thing definitely

Futher links:

Pussy Riot prove the only professionals in sight, Guardian

Videos to see Pussy Riot and Supporting venues/actions/people

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