Pussy Riot

Russia's Past Is Ever Present

The Russian parliament is currently attempting to pass legislation that would criminalize “homosexual propaganda”, whatever that means. Included in the list of banned activities are public displays or events supporting gay rights. Julia Ioffe at The New Republic explores beyond the obvious human rights concerns (which are myriad) to what this means for the future of Vladimir Putin’s Russia:

The president is showing that he is not only not going anywhere, but that he will impose his vision of Russia on all Russians, whether they like it or not. That vision is not, as many think, the neo-Soviet one—though there are elements of it in Putin’s foreign policy—but the imperial one. Putin’s favorite character from Russian history is not Stalin, but Pyotr Stolypin, a brute reformer who served under Nicholas II. Putin is also said to see his greatest achievement as the reuniting of the Russian Orthodox Church, which split shortly after the Russian Revolution into a domestic and Western one. He has overseen a renaissance of orthodoxy and has ushered the church into the halls of power, to the point where it is now widely seen as a Kremlin affiliate. These days, hardly a policy move happens without the church stating its position on it.

Last year’s imprisonment of Pussy Riot for a relatively innocuous demonstration certainly suggests as much.

Russian Court Tries to Ban All Online Videos of Pussy Riot

One government witness testified that videos, including one of an anti-Vladmir Putin song performed in Red Square, were “a disguised call to organize mass riots.”

I assume he continued: “It isn’t at all that we’re scared of a few women and the resonance of their message. Any suggestion that the government is acting out of fear will be considered sedition.”

One Pussy Riot Member Released, Probably Not for Fantastic Reasons

I agree with this analysis by Mark Adomanis. I’m glad Yekaterina Samutsevich is free again, and it sounds like she made a shrewd maneuver by switching representation and tactics, but this just seems like a way for Putin’s government to seem magnanimous and pay some lip service to justice without actually changing in any meaningful way.

Pussy Riot Feminism and the Orthodox Church

Great historical perspective on the conflict over gender equality in the Eastern Orthodox Church between “cradle Orthodox”—first-generation immigrants and their children—and recent converts:

The rich mystic theology of Eastern Christianity preserves a complicated understanding of gender that even postulates a God who is beyond gender. In liturgical practice too, the Orthodox Church offers glimmers of light to those who would seek greater equality. For example, women throughout Eastern Christendom were routinely ordained to the diaconate (the first order of the priesthood) well into the 11th century.

Most importantly, however, in many Orthodox cultures tradition has given women a great deal of de facto spiritual authority within the home and the wider community. This was certainly the reality of my childhood. It was my mother, grandmother and aunts who had dreams, spoke to saints at night in candlelight prayer and whispered the meaning of the liturgy and the secrets of the universe into my ears.

The politicization of American Christianity is shackling the Church. Read to find out [yet another reason] why.

Russian PM Calls for Pussy Riot to Be Freed

(Potentially) good news. I don’t think this demonstrates belated concern for civil rights, though, and neither does the AP:

By being the one to call for the women’s release, Medvedev, who has cultivated the image of a more liberal leader, could allow Putin to put the uncomfortable case behind him while not appearing weak.

Via The Mary Sue.

Russian Orthodox Church Forgives Pussy Riot

”The church has been sometimes accused of not forgiving them,” the bearded and bespectacled cleric said. “We did forgive them from the very start. But such actions should be cut short by society and authorities.”

Just the way Jesus would have said it.

Via Jezebel

"They Were Trying to Break My Leg"

In case you don’t think Pussy Riot’s conviction was politically-motivated, read this account from Eli Lake at The Daily Beast of police brutality against one of the group’s prominent supporters:

The police officers, Kasparov said, began to carry his limp body into a van with others whom they had arrested. The former chess champion said he remembered screaming in agony.