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.

Radical Woman of the Day: Ayn Rand

On this day in 1905 was born Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum, who later renamed herself Ayn Rand, author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and founder of Objectivism.

Rand was born in Saint Petersburg before the advent of Communism, but her family had to flee to Crimea after the October Revolution. Rand attended high school there and had already decided she was an atheist when her family returned to Saint Petersburg after her graduation. With greater education opportunities now open to women, she studied history at Petrograd State University (as it was then called), graduating in 1924.

Having begun writing screenplays at the age of eight, Rand studied at the State Technicum for Screen Arts during her first postgraduate year, and in the fall of 1925 she visited America. She managed to stay in the United States for several years, travelling to Hollywood and beginning work in the film business. (She landed her first job, as a movie extra, as a result of a chance meeting with Cecil B. DeMille.) Rand eventually married Frank O’Connor in 1929 and became a United States citizen in 1931. She wrote several screenplays and worked as a script doctor during the remainder of the 1930s, also publishing her first novel, We the Living, in 1936.

In 1938 The Fountainhead was published in England, but it was not published in the United States until 1943. Its success, and the even greater subsequent success of Atlas Shrugged, launched Rand’s new career as a philosopher, lecturer, and ongoing figure of controversy.

Via the Radical Women’s History Project.

Tina Fey to Possibly Star in Muppets Movie

Rumor has it Fey will play a Russian gulag prison guard, in what sounds like a pretty dark idea for a Muppets movie. Still, I think the correct response to this news is: “Eeeeeeeeee!”

Via The Mary Sue.

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.

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