Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

How to Become an International Celebrity Protester

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This week I was wandering around my local supermarket when I spotted something very unusual for Central Texas. A young woman was wearing a shocking pink T-shirt that read FREE PUSSY RIOT. I thought, Wow, they’re megastars now! Yet, although I more or less agreed with the sentiment on the T-shirt, I did wonder why these young women receive so much attention, when their protest was so asinine, and there are so many more causes in the world deserving of attention. For instance, that little girl who got shot in the head in Afghanistan earlier this week… where are the T-shirts demanding justice for her? Nowhere. Or, what about Mali, overrun by radical Islamists who are busy destroying ancient Sufi shrines? When is Paul McCartney going to tell them to stop? Never. Then, there’s NATO member Turkey, which imprisons more journalists than any other country in the world… when is Sean Penn going to speak up for them? He isn’t.

What’s going on here? Well, first of all, Russia’s very easy to understand. Russians are always the bad guys in Hollywood movies, and Putin is ex- KGB, so the Pussy Riot case is an incredibly easy narrative to frame. However, that’s not the complete explanation, because many people in Russia’s opposition are much more coherent and intelligent than Pussy Riot, but nobody in Texas is wearing hot pink T-shirts in support of Aleksei Navalny or Sergei Udaltsov. Is it because Pussy Riot consists of young women and mothers? Certainly, that increases sympathy for them, but I still don’t think that’s the core of the matter. Rather, I think it’s because their protest was extremely Western in style, as if designed to trigger a massive nostalgic response in Europe and America.

You see, punk music, feminists with attitude, irreverence for church and state… once upon a time, all that stuff was very exciting for us. Now, it’s incredibly boring. Punk music? In the 1970s, it was a bit shocking, what with all that spitting and saying rude things about the Queen. Today, the most famous punks are millionaires in their 40s or late 50s who live in mansions. As for blasphemy, you can dunk a crucifix in urine or incorporate elephant dung into your picture of the Virgin Mary and most people will yawn, whilst the artist reaps handsome rewards. See how boring that is? The ennui is terrible; there’s no risk involved. You need to go back 30 or 40 years for any of it to have meaning. In Russia, however, you’ll still get bashed on the head if you irritate the wrong people, and… as we have seen… singing a rotten song in a church can land you in jail. As the writer Zinovy Zinik once said, Russia is a vast erogenous zone for bored Westerners, close enough to provide a vicarious thrill, but sufficiently distant that it poses no risk of infection. Russians won’t protest in their thousands in front of Google’s offices in London if you say rude things about them on Youtube, for instance.

This meanwhile leads to an interesting question… how can you become an international celebrity protester? Well, if you live in the Middle East, or Africa, tough luck. Those places are too exotic, and much too dangerous. The best you can hope for is that a celebrity mediator might stop by and pick up your cause… like George Clooney in Darfur, or Sting wherever it is he hangs out these days. No, you need to live in a country that can be easily encapsulated as authoritarian, and preferably ex-communist. Thus, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei managed to achieve some renown, although he is much less successful than Pussy Riot. Retro youth culture is the way to go; you have to appeal to Western nostalgia. The problem is that punk’s been done, and protesting in a church has been done, so what’s left? I think you have to go further back in time, to the 1960s. None of that Black Panther, Weather Underground terror stuff, though; it isn’t fashionable any more. No, the protest has to be really asinine… like getting naked in public for instance. Ah, wait… FEMEN in the Ukraine have already done that (and scored decent media coverage).

Wait, I’ve got it! Here’s the height of pointlessness, the most ridiculous protest of all. Stage a bed-in, like John and Yoko! Decades afterward, people still remember that the ex-Beatle and his undertalented wife slept in late one day for the sake of… world peace, was it? Or, were they raising our consciousness? Maybe Garry Kasparov could lie in bed with Eduard Limonov and refuse to get up until Russia changes. Of course, I think President Putin would be perfectly happy if they did just that.

17 October 2012

Daniel Kalder

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/columnists/20121017/176705536.html

 

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Monday, 27 August 2012

27 August 2012. It’s Time to Say “Sayonara” to the Pussy Riot Story… Let the Anti-Religonists Rage…

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We shouldn’t let rotten shit take over our minds and drive all the good out. Recently, there was a case of that here in the Church in the USA. There was a bunch of disobedient nuns under an oddbod elder in Greece. The situation upset one of the senior clerics involved. Another senior cleric approached him and said (broadly… I don’t want to give a clue to who said it or to whom it was addressed), “You’re letting these nuns take over your mind… and getting nothing in return. Let it be”. This was excellent advice, and the cleric (thank God) attended to it. We all know how it worked out… these nuns are such a bunch of obstreperous nogoodniks that they pissed off Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral, who’s known for his forbearance and tolerance (one of my priest friends said, “He’s too nice. I wish that he’d get angry every now and again”).

It’s time for us to put the Pussy Riot story to bed permanently. All that it’s doing is taking up space in our heads that should be taken up with things that we can do something about. As a monastic friend of mine in Greece said:

If it’s not involved with your salvation or with something that you can put right, drop it. There’s always been loud theomachists out there. They’ll be there tomorrow. Let this go.

In short, she was saying the same thing about Pussy Riot as the unnamed senior cleric said about the loud n’ wilful nuns. Look, raskolniki like Marat Gelman, Ksenia Sobchak, Garry Kasparov, and Mikhail Prokhorov are going to be gassing about this for the near future. Their American paymasters and abettors are going to keep going on about this. Much treacly rubbish shall appear in the New York Times and Washington Times… it’s dreary and predictable. In short, bluntly, fuck this lot and all of their loud bullshit. We needn’t get suckered into letting them take over space in our heads that belongs to good things. In a similar vein, I don’t refute Terrence Mattingly, Rod Dreher, and Freddie M-G point-by-point. It’s pointless, it’s fruitless, and it ain’t gonna change a thing, although I did find Dreher’s statement that there’s a “step-by-step spiritual plan in Orthodoxy” a total hoot… only a clueless juvenile would write such mind-numbing rot.

Adiós, sayonara, auf wiedersehen, adieu, and da svidanya to the Pussy Riot story. It’ll chug along without us, I’m sure. By the way, click here for a link to the website of Yuliya Slavyanskaya… someone WORTH spending some of your God-given time on…

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Monday 27 August 2012

Albany NY

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Kasparov May Face Jail Over “Bitten” Policeman

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On Saturday, media sources said Russian chess grandmaster-turned-opposition activist Garry Kasparov, who’s a supporter of the jailed Pussy Riot members, can follow them to prison over a clash with the OMON. Police said Kasparov bit the finger of one of several OMONtsy dragging him away from a Moscow court where three Pussy Riot members were convicted on Friday over an anti-Kremlin “punk prayer” at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The RBC Daily news website said that the accusation could land him in jail for five years on charges of attacking a policeman on duty. Moscow GUMVD confirmed they were preparing to hand over the case to the SKP, the Russian investigatory service, which will conduct a check into the matter.

Rusnovosti.ru reported that Kasparov claimed that the OMON arrested him for no reason as he was giving an interview, twisting his arms and kicking him in the crotch on the way to the police van. He also said on Ekho Moskvy radio that he would sue police over the incident. Kasparov also denied biting anyone and said the officer in question, Denis Ratnikov, could’ve run afoul of a police dog. An MVD spokesman said the force was willing to conduct an examination to compare Kasparov’s bite to that of their service dogs. Moscow GUMVD never specified why they detained Kasparov. The OMON arrested approximately 50 people Friday at the Khamovnichesky district court, where Pussy Riot members received gaol terms of two years for hooliganism and inciting religious hatred. Kasparov, 49, who retired from chess in 2005, is one of the most ardent critics of President Vladimir Putin. He’s supported Pussy Riot, who claim the Kremlin punished them for mocking its alliance with the Church, which endorsed Putin’s presidential bid earlier this year.

18 August 2012

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120818/175298307.html

Friday, 17 August 2012

Kasparov “Bites Police Officer”

Opposition leader and professional agitator Garry Kasparov (1963- ) being nicked by the cops. Note the TV cameraman capturing it all for CNN… in short, Kasparov is “eating this up”, and Putin’s wise enough to just book him, fine him, and let him go. He won’t make Kasparov a martyr for the West

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On Friday, police said that opposition leader Garry Kasparov bit a police officer while being detained outside a Moscow court, whilst the verdict in the trial of the Pussy Riot group members was being announced. A former world chess champion and outspoken Kremlin critic, Kasparov was among some 300 people who gathered outside the Khamovnichesky Court in central Moscow on Friday afternoon to protest against the controversial trial, in which three female Pussy Riot members were sentenced to two years in a general security penal colony for staging an anti-Kremlin “punk prayer” in a central Moscow cathedral in February. OMONtsy deployed outside the court detained at least 30 people, including Kasparov, who co-chairs the all-Russian Civil Congress opposition movement, and Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov.

Russian media quoted Kasparov as saying, “I don’t understand why I was detained”. He said he was giving an interview when police officers approached him. He also said people dressed in riot police uniforms had “brutally beaten” him after pushing him into a paddy wagon. His claim couldn’t be independently verified. The police spokesman said the police officer had his index finger and hand bitten by Kasparov and had to seek medical attention. The incident is being investigated, the spokesman said. Kasparov dismissed the allegation of having bitten the police officer.

17 August 2012

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120817/175282580.html

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