Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Piter Lawmaker Wants Russia to Ban “Conchita Wurst”

Inessa Safronova. Mankind Without the Cross. 2002

Mankind Without the Cross

Inessa Safronova



Vitaly Milonov, a deputy of the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg, appealed to Minister of Culture Vladimir Medina to bar Austrian singer Thomas Neuwirth (better known as Conchita Wurst) from entering the Russian Federation. Milonov put forth his proposal after the Eurovision Song Contest winner announced the start of an international tour, including plans to visit Russia, saying, “The Russian government shouldn’t allow this transvestite to enter our country. This ‘Bearded Woman’ is a gross insult to all the peoples of Russia”. Milonov has a reputation for proposing high-profile bills and proposals. In February 2012, he submitted a draft law in the Federal City of St Petersburg, later adopted, establishing fines for promoting paedophilia and homosexuality. In December 2012, he accused Lady Gaga and Madonna of violating Russian visa regulations.


“Conchita Wurst” is shameless and shameful, but we shouldn’t obsess over the situation. Russia should ban their entry and leave it at that. I don’t even like posting pictures of this person. I think that all decent people agree with me. Do have a care with this topic if you live in the West… certain lobbies are very powerful and can cause you great upset and trouble. Choose your arguments well… this is something best left unmentioned. However, the usual cast of suspects (both “left” and “right”) will have a field day. Stay out of the kids’ food fight… it’ll be much Sturm und Drang signifying nothing. I don’t know who’s worse… the so-called “religious” or the so-called “activists”. In my mind, I don’t care much for either.

Need I say more?


12 May 2014



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Sunday, 2 February 2014

Ireland Pulled a Collective Cringe Muscle Watching Pussy Riot on the Saturday Night Show

00 cringing woman. 02.02.14


Last night’s Saturday Night Show was…something. Guests included Marty Whelan, a debate on homophobia, and the first European interview with Pussy Riot members. Whoa. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Mariya Alyokhina from the Russian feminist punk group {it’s no such thing… punk DIED twenty years ago: editor} spent time in prison following a protest against Putin in a Russian Orthodox church in 2012. Now, free and campaigning for change, surely it would be gripping television? Well, not exactly. Nadezhda’s husband Peter had the laborious task of translating questions stretching to what prison was like and what they thought about Madonna. Twitter couldn’t cope with the tension. The physios will be jammers today with all the sore cringe muscles across Ireland.

Click on the link below for some hilarious Tweets on it all…

2 February 2014

Nicola Byrnes



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Thursday, 23 August 2012

Mayor Ed Koch Gives the REAL DEAL on Pussy Riot

Ex-Mayor Ed Koch (1924- ) of New York City… one of my fave people. Anyone who said, “If you say you agree with me on everything, you’re either insane or kissing my ass. If we agree on what’s in front of us, we can work together”, is A-Number One in my book. If more of us followed that credo, there’d be less friction and bullshit in the world.


Madonna, the State Department, and the White House Have It All Wrong: The Russian Orthodox Church Is the Victim, Not Pussy Riot

This week, a Russian court sentenced three feminist punk performers who call themselves Pussy Riot to prison for two years. The three women were charged with “hooliganism”. The graveness of the charge was described by the New York Times of 18 August:

The case began in February when the women infiltrated the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour wearing colourful balaclavas, and pranced around in front of the golden Holy Doors leading to the altar, dancing, chanting, and lip-syncing for what would later become a music video of a profane song in which they beseeched the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Mr Putin.

Stalin deliberately destroyed the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. It was rebuilt in 1992, after the fall of the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachyov, it’s one of Moscow’s architectural gems, and, now, once again, a heavily-used Russian Orthodox church. The Times reported on the Russian Orthodox Church’s reaction to Pussy Riot:

On Friday, the Russian Orthodox Church issued a statement that referred to Nazi aggression and the militant atheism of the Soviet era, which said, “What happened is blasphemy and sacrilege, the conscious and deliberate insult to the sanctuary and a manifestation of hostility to millions of people”.

Judge Syrova, when delivering her decision, according to the Times, found that the action in the church was “motivated by religious hatred”.

The Western cultural élite is rallying to the defence of the disrupters in the cathedral. Some approve of the verbal attack on Putin. Others support the denunciation of the Russian Orthodox Church leadership and the church disruption because the Church leadership supports Putin. All cited characterise the issue as one of free speech. I don’t. I’d assume that many Pussy Riot supporters would take a different position, and rightly so, if here in the USA, a black church were invaded and three men or women engaged in comparable conduct insulting holy places within the church and the pastor. I recall when I was Mayor in 1989, and the AIDS activist group Act Up, unjustifiably angry with John Cardinal O’Connor, invaded St Patrick’s Cathedral and interrupted the Mass, throwing the Communion wafers… which for Catholics are the actual Body of Christ… to the floor. Some were arrested. So far as I can recall, no one was punished. I think the decision of the Russian court to punish a hate crime was just and to be applauded, rather than condemned and ridiculed. One can argue concerning the degree of punishment, whether fines rather than jail time should have been imposed, but that’s a function of the Russian penalty procedures.

I also believe it isn’t in the interest of the USA to support the actions of the Pussy Riot defendants. At a time when the Iranian nuclear threat grows by the day and we’re fighting Islamic extremists around the world, we should be seeking to enlist President Putin to join the West in our effort to prevent the Islamist fanatics from achieving their goal of destroying Western civilisation, not making him the enemy and Pussy Riot the victim. The attacks on President Putin for “squelching free speech” included one by Madonna performing at the time in Moscow.

The extent of the culture clash was evident this month when Madonna paused during a concert in Moscow to urge the release of the women, who have been jailed since March, and performed in a black bra with “Pussy Riot” stencilled in bold letters on her back. The next day, Dmitri Rogozin, a deputy prime minister, posted a Twitter message calling Madonna a “whore”.

Madonna’s an artist, always testing the limits of decency, and, often, going beyond restrictions accepted by ordinary people. However, I don’t defer to her judgment on such political matters. Most shocking to me was the response of the White House, as reported by the Times:

In Washington, where Obama administration officials followed the trial closely, seeing it as a measure of Mr Putin’s new presidency and its own troubled relations with Russia, the White House and the State Department each criticised the verdict. The State Department all but called on Russia’s higher courts to overturn the conviction and “ensure that the right to freedom of expression is upheld”. A White House spokesman, Tommy Vietor, said the verdict was disappointing and the sentences disproportionate, saying, ”While we understand that the group’s behaviour was offensive to some, we have serious concerns about the way these young women have been treated by the Russian judicial system”.

Offensive to some? I don’t believe the issue is properly one of freedom of expression. The right to free expression isn’t unlimited, and it doesn’t mean one can say anything anywhere and at anytime. Furthermore, Russia and most countries don’t have embedded in their law the Constitutional protection of the First Amendment that we do. I, for one, am delighted they now punish religious hatred. Aren’t you?

21 August 2012

Ed Koch

Former Mayor of New York City

Huff Post New York


Editor’s Note:

The above post is an example of Mayor Koch’s dictum… I don’t agree with his POV on the Iranian nuclear threat and I have some problems with his take on Islamism, but since the Pussy Riot affair is “what’s before us”, that doesn’t matter. We should all remember that… often, your best ally in a given situation may be someone who disagrees with you on another. I believe in that.


Friday, 17 August 2012

Most Russians Agree with the Pussy Riot Trial


A recent sociological survey shows that most Russians agree that the Pussy Riot punk group should be put on trial. 44 percent of respondents believe that the trial will be fair and impartial, but 17 percent of respondents feel otherwise. Meanwhile, 40 percent of those polled believe that the decision to try the punk group was prompted by Orthodox believers’ outrage at the Pussy Riot’s rowdy behaviour in a Moscow church in February this year.

A Moscow court is due to pass a sentence on three members of the punk group later today. The procurator demanded a three-year jail sentence, whilst the counsel for the defence insists that the girls in the dock should be acquitted. In February, the accused entered the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, and started jumping and grimacing in front of the Royal Doors, whilst hurling insults at the believers. This went on for several minutes.

Today, at 15.00 MSK, the three women (Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Maria Alyokhina) charged with hooliganism for their punk-prayer at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour will know the verdict. Their supporters plan to hold a peaceful rally near Moscow Khamovnichesky Court Friday before the verdict is delivered.

In late February, four members of Pussy Riot performed a so-called “punk prayer” before the Royal Doors of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Some of their supporters called this blasphemy a “performance”. Three band members were detained and charged with hooliganism. The trial triggered a lot of fuss in the country and abroad. They received support from a number of Western celebrities, such as Madonna, Paul McCartney, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Faith No More, Anti-Flag, Franz Ferdinand, Stephen Frey, and Yoko Ono, whilst some Russian stars condemned the girls and said that they deserved punishment.

17 August 2012

Voice of Russia World Service


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