Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Pussy Riot Prisoners Qualify for Amnesty… RF Supreme Court Sends Case Back to Lower Court

00 Pussy Riot. 17.08.12b


Editor’s Note:

Rosbalt posted arrant shit (yet again) on the Pussy Riot case (Stetson picked it up, but labelled it unreliable). It’s like Portal-Credo.ru (here’s some info on Roman Lunkin, the nutter behind Portal-Credo) and Civil Georgia… many see them as Langley-financed running dogs (I agree with that assessment), who post mostly white propaganda (truthful as far as it goes, but it never goes far enough), along with some outrageous black propaganda. Nevertheless, these sites are a “must read”; they tell you the Langley “party line” of the moment. For instance, it’s why Orthodox people should attend to Potapov, Mattingly, Dreher, Reardon, Paffhausen, and Webster; they toe the Republican Party line blindly, thoughtlessly, and unswervingly (indeed, they’re modern analogues of “Stalinistcadres), so, they can tell you the latest about that lot… fancy that.  Some of the intel on these sites is legit, just “spun” in a pro-American direction. In any case, Rosbalt just lost its registration in October, so, it may not be long for this world… good riddance to bad rubbish…



Jailed Pussy Riot members seem eligible for release under the terms of an amnesty that the RF Gosduma debated on Tuesday. The amnesty, to mark the 20th anniversary of the current Russian Constitution, applies to people serving sentences of up to five years for non-violent crimes, who haven’t previously served prison time. On Tuesday, Vladimir Lukin, RF Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the amnesty would apply to as many as 22,000 people. Mariya Alyokhina, 25, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, are serving two-year terms for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for taking part in Pussy Riot’s brief “punk prayer” protest against President Vladimir Putin at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow in 2012. Their conviction caused a stir amongst human rights groups both at home and abroad.

The text of the amnesty conditions published on the RF Gosduma official website specifically lists mothers of underage children as being eligible for amnesty. Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova each have a child aged under seven. The text of the amnesty, presented to the RF Gosduma by Putin for consideration, excludes those who “deliberately violated the established terms of their punishment”, although it wasn’t immediately clear what would constitute such violations. Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova, who deny their guilt, both received reprimands whilst imprisoned that judges cited in repeated rejections of parole appeals. Both women have release dates of March 2014.

Dmitri Vyatkin, deputy chairman of the RF Gosduma constitutional legislation committee, said that the authorities would consider each case on an individual basis. Vyatkin told RIA-Novosti, “People might not agree to be amnestied, if, for example, they don’t consider themselves guilty”. The publication of the conditions for amnesty shed light on the fate of several other high-profile prisoners or people facing charges in Russia. The 30 people from 18 countries arrested by Russian authorities on board a Greenpeace ship after a protest against oil drilling in the Arctic in September are also eligible for pardon. They faced charges of hooliganism and now await trial in St Petersburg. Former Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, charged with negligence amidst a scandal over the misuse of state funds, is also eligible for amnesty.

However, the amnesty won’t apply to all non-violent crimes. Opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, who got a suspended sentence this summer for large-scale theft in what critics said was a politically-motivated case, won’t see his conviction erased under the amnesty. Yevgeniya Vasilyeva, a former Defence Ministry property department head charged over the illegal sale of government property, faces trial for crimes including large-scale fraud and money laundering, which aren’t included under the terms of the amnesty.


On Tuesday, the RF Supreme Court referred an appeal by three members of Pussy Riot against their prison sentence back to a Moscow court. On its website, the court said that it referred the case involving Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich to the Presidium of the Moscow City Court, a panel of judges tasked with reviewing sentences already in force. The women received two-year sentences to a general-level correctional colony in 2012 after being convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, for staging a “punk prayer” in Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow’s, against Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency. Their imprisonment caused an international stir. Later, Samutsevich left prison on probation after appeal, but Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova now serve out their sentences, due for release next March. The Moscow City Court rejected an appeal against their sentences on 29 May. The defence team then appealed that ruling to the RF Supreme Court. Alyokhina, 25, and Tolokonnikova, 23, could be eligible for release under a proposed amnesty that the RF Gosduma began to consider Tuesday. The amnesty is to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the current Russian Constitution. The amnesty includes a provision for mothers of young children. Both Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova have children under the age of seven.

10/11 December 2013





Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Pussy Riot Case Splits Believers as Verdict Nears

OMONtsy detain pro-Pussy Riot protesters


Editor’s Foreword:

One doesn’t have to agree with the tenor of an article to recognise its importance and/or its usefulness… this is one such. Note well that this is the opinion of a Westerner (albeit one long-resident in Russia and employed by a Russian enterprise).



With seven days to go until the verdict in the controversial trial of Pussy Riot, believers at the landmark Moscow cathedral where the all-female group carried out their now notorious anti-Putin protest were as divided this week over the case as the rest of Russia. It was here, inside the grand walls of the reconstructed Christ the Saviour Cathedral, that Pussy Riot raged against the powerful Orthodox Church’s support for Vladimir Putin ahead of the March presidential polls that returned the former KGB officer to the Kremlin for a third term. Alternately high-kicking and crossing themselves in the cathedral where Russia’s leaders traditionally celebrate religious holidays, the band performed a raucous “punk prayer” that urged “Virgin Mary” to “drive Putin out”. In March, the cops arrested three young women… Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22; Maria Alyokhina, 24; and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30… and charged them with hooliganism as part of an organised group. Prosecutors allege their actions were not political and that they meant to insult the faith of Orthodox believers and “incite religious hatred”. The case has made world headlines, with a host of Western and Russian cultural figures, including pop diva Madonna, calling for the release of the suspects. Amnesty International has also recognised the women as political prisoners.

Deep Split

Worshippers emerging from the cathedral into the Russian capital’s bright summer sunshine this week were split over whether the suspects should be jailed for the three years asked for by the state prosecutor or freed as a demonstration of Christianity’s fundamental message of forgiveness. Svetlana, a young Muscovite, snapped as she stood on the steps of the cathedral, “Yeah, of course, Christ taught people to forgive their enemies, but those bitches should be put away for life, all the same. I’d have dealt with them right there inside the cathedral”. Like many worshippers quizzed on the case, she declined to give her surname. One of Svetlana’s friends, as she removed the silk scarf that she’d used to cover her head within the cathedral, added, “If you don’t respect the beliefs of others, don’t come here and dance in our sacred place”.

However, not everyone agreed that we should punish the group… in this world, at least… for what the suspects have since admitted in court was an “ethical mistake”. Marina Semshyova, a young woman from Siberia, after visiting the cathedral, said, “It’s just awful what they did, but they have children and I feel sorry for them. We shouldn’t put them in jail. God will judge them eventually”. Lyubov Golbina, a middle-aged resident of Russia’s second city, St Petersburg, said, “There’s absolutely no need to imprison them. The trial’s a stupid mistake that we didn’t think through correctly. They’ll repent, sooner or later”. An elderly church employee selling candles to worshippers inside the cathedral scowled when asked to give her personal opinion on the case. She mumbled, “I’m not going to say anything that’ll increase their fame”, refusing to comment further. Last week, Putin commented extensively for the first time on the case while in London for the Olympics, telling reporters that whilst there was “nothing good” in the group’s actions, we shouldn’t judge them “too severely”. Nevertheless, he also stressed the court’s right to rule as it sees fit, in a statement that’s provoked a wide range of interpretations.

No Repentance, No Forgiveness

Amongst the wider population, including both believers and non-believers, 58 percent believe a jail term would be excessive, compared to 33 percent who endorse a custodial sentence, according to a nationwide survey conducted by the independent pollster Levada in late July. Levada quizzed 1,600 respondents nationwide and the poll had a margin of error of 3.4 percent. However, whilst a number of high-profile believers expressed unease at the prolonged confinement of the anti-Putin punks, the Church has not issued a public call for their release. Earlier this year, the Church’s powerful head, Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev, said that he was “saddened” by calls from believers for leniency. Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the Church’s de facto spokesman on the case, told RIA-Novosti in an exclusive interview last month that he wouldn’t comment on the trial until the court announced the verdict. Nevertheless, he also said that without repentance, there could be no forgiveness, and to suggest otherwise was “an anti-Christian idea”.

A number of Orthodox believers, including priests, publically questioned Chaplin’s strident theological stance, but many worshippers at the cathedral shared it. Muscovite housewife Svetlana Sidorina said, “They haven’t officially apologised or repented and they are trying to justify their actions”. She also dismissed as “not genuine” the group’s courtroom apology for any offense they may have caused believers with what they insist was an exclusively “political” statement, adding, “They insulted the faith and feelings of all Orthodox believers. It’s as if they danced on the graves of my family members, but I can’t say I have this great desire to see them punished. The court should decide. I feel sorry for them and their children”. She also shrugged off suggestions that the group’s actions were a bizarre form of prayer in keeping with Russia’s tradition of holy fools, outsiders given leeway to make sometimes shocking or controversial observations on society, insisting, “That was no prayer. A prayer is a thing of intimate communion, not a public demonstration. All this now with Madonna and so on defending them… that’s just an attempt to diminish the standing of Orthodox Christianity in Russia”.

Church and State

The case has also highlighted the growing influence of the Orthodox Church in Russia and caused concern among liberal observers who believe the constitutional separation of church and state is under threat. Initially, many saw Patriarch Kirill as a modernising force when he took over from his predecessor Aleksei Ridiger… an alleged KGB agent… in 2009. However, the unprecedented protests against Putin that broke out last year have also seen a rise in criticism of the Orthodox Church and its backing for the Kremlin, as well as the perceived luxurious lifestyles of its leading figures. This criticism reached a peak when the patriarch praised Putin as a “miracle of God” in the run-up to the 4 March presidential polls.

Last month, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin told RIA-Novosti that Orthodox believers saw nothing wrong in the “close cooperation” of the church with the Kremlin, but believers at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral were decidedly against an end to the legal division of the country’s religious and political authorities, even if, at times, their statements were at sometimes at odds with their professed convictions. Muscovite mother-of-three Olga Smolova said, “The church should be separate from the state so that its voice can be independent. However, there was nothing wrong with the patriarch backing Putin ahead of the elections. Our church leaders have always blessed our rulers to ensure that their decisions come from God”. As she passed a beggar outside the cathedral’s gates, middle-aged Muscovite Tatiana said, “There’s no doubt that the church and the state should be independent from one another. However, Kirill is a very clever man and I guess he did the right thing in backing Putin. All this criticism of the patriarch is just nonsense. I see no moral equal to him in Russia today”.

Sacred Site?

The Pussy Riot story triggered a debate about the significance of the Christ the Saviour Cathedral itself, with believers at odds over the sacredness of the site and its importance for Russian Orthodoxy. Lyubov Golbina said, “I don’t consider this cathedral a holy place. I mean, there used to be a swimming pool here. There are plenty of sacred sites around Russia, but this cathedral hasn’t been prayed in enough to be one”. The original Christ the Saviour Cathedral was blown up on the orders of Soviet dictator Iosif Stalin in 1931 as part of the officially-atheist state’s anti-religion campaign. Stalin intended to place a gigantic statue of Lenin on the site, but the location proved too waterlogged for its construction and an open-air swimming pool was opened there instead. The cathedral’s reconstruction began in the 1990s, as religion emerged from the shadows in the newly-independent Russia. The completed cathedral, constructed partly with public donations, was consecrated in 2000.

However, recent years have seen allegations of the commercialisation of the cathedral, which hosts an underground parking lot, car-wash, and halls available for rent for private functions. Oleg, a middle-aged man who was initially hesitant about commenting, said, “This is the holiest place in the country for all Orthodox believers”. He had no doubt, however, about what should be done with Pussy Riot, saying, “I guess three years is about right. I have no idea why they did what they did, but the less is written and spoken about them, the better it’ll be for the Church and the girls”. The court will announce its verdict in the case at 15.00 MSK (12.00 UTC 07.00 EDT 04.00 PDT 21.00 AEDT) on 17 August. This week, Pussy Riot lawyer Mark Feigin said on Twitter that there’d be global street protests in support of the group an hour before the verdict.

10 August 2012

Marc Bennetts



Editor’s Afterword:

As I said earlier, no one’s going to be pleased with the verdict when it comes. However, it WILL end the media circus, quite comparable to that in the OJ case in the USA. For what it’s worth, I believe that the court will sentence the girls to a year in detention. You see, President Putin has weighed in with his opinion… or, the court will sentence them to three years, but Putin will pardon them after a year or so. This case has taken over the media, and I’ll be glad to see it gone (along with many others).


Thursday, 19 April 2012

Pussy Riot to Remain Behind Bars


On Thursday, a Moscow court ruled that three members of the all-female punk group Pussy Riot must remain in custody until at least 24 June for taking part in an anti-Putin protest at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. Art group Voina reported in its Twitter microblog that suspect Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said as she was led away, “No one’s to blame for this situation but Vladimir Putin”. fellow suspect Maria Alyokhina, alluding to the height of Soviet dictator Iosif Stalin’s terror, in a quote carried by the RAPSI news agency, stated, “If I cannot hear my child’s voice because of my criticism of the authorities, then welcome to 1937”. All three of the accused face sentences of up to seven years on hooliganism charges. A date for their trial hasn’t been set as investigators continue their probe. On Thursday, Pussy Riot lawyer Nikolai Polozov told the Public Post website that the police hadn’t questioned the suspects since their initial arrest. Earlier in the day, Polozov told RIA-Novosti, “This is a mockery of a case and it should be closed immediately”.

Some 300 people gathered in front of the court to demand freedom for the suspects, arrested by the police in early and mid-March. Police made a number of arrests, arresting some 30 demonstrators wearing t-shirts in support of the group. The Prokuratura asked the court to continue the custody of the Pussy Riot suspects to “ensure the safety” of the accused. A lawyer for the group said that some people had made death threats against the suspects and their children in March. The ruling came ahead of a 22 April “Defence of the Faith” nationwide prayer action called by the MP to protect it from attacks by “anti-Russian forces”.

Five masked members of Pussy Riot performed a protest song entitled Holy Shit before the Royal Gates at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in downtown Moscow on February 21. The lyrics included lines such as “Holy Mother, Blessed Virgin, chase Putin out!” Pussy Riot said the performance was a response to MP First Hierarch Patriarch Kirill’s backing of President-elect Vladimir Putin in the run-up to his landslide 4 March election victory. The patriarch called the 12 years of Putin’s rule a “miracle of God” in a televised meeting. Putin’s press secretary said the president-elect reacted “negatively” when told of Pussy Riot’s protest.

An opinion poll released on Monday by VTsIOM indicated that a mere 10 percent of Russians want to see the suspects remain behind bars. Just over half of the respondents favoured community work or a fine. Yevgenia Chirikova {a pro-US extremist, has met with Biden and McFaul… a violent supporter of “Democracy”: editor}, one of the leaders of this winter’s anti-Putin protests said in her Twitter microblog that the decision not to free the suspects on bail had “set Russia back 500 years. Welcome to the Middle Ages!” The police arrested Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich in early and mid-March. All the suspects admit being part of the Pussy Riot collective, but deny taking part in the cathedral performance. Both Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova have small children.

Amnesty International recognised the suspects of prisoners of conscience earlier this month, and a number of public and Orthodox figures have called for their release. However, an MP spokesman slammed Amnesty’s decision, calling it an “insult to those genuine prisoners of conscience who’ve suffered under totalitarian regimes such as China, Iran, the Soviet Union, and Hitler’s Germany”. Some 10,000 people attended a rally condemning the group’s actions in the south Russian city of Krasnodar early in April. Patriarch Kirill hit out at those who he said seek to “justify and downplay this sacrilege” in an address to believers in March, saying, “My heart breaks from bitterness that amongst these people there are those who call themselves Orthodox”.

Pussy Riot first hit the headlines in January, when they raced through a musical diatribe against Putin on a snowy Red Square, calling for “Revolt in Russia!” and chanting, “Putin’s got scared” before the police arrested them.

19 April 2012



Editor’s Note:

Let’s keep it simple… how would Fox News react if Vladimir Putin were to personally met with and give his sympathy to Trayvon Martin’s family? Why, they’d be up in arms! “How dare he! He’s interfering in our internal affairs!” Yes… what’s good for one side is good for the other, and Americans have to keep their greedy paws off other countries. The world is NOT the oyster of the One Percent… no, never! That’s what “Democracy” really means for them… look at Katrina vanden Heuvel, and you’ll know what I mean (the “limousine liberals” are just another form of capitalist… a rather more hypocritical and pernicious breed than their “conservative” counterparts)…

By the way, all that American meddling is doing is pissing off MP elements that might’ve tilted their way due to social conservatism. American interference is so blatant and condescending that it pisses off all true decent Russians. The Americans are listening to an unrepresentative 5 percent slice of zapadniki… but then again, the Americans kick their own 99 percent in the arse unmercifully, so, why should they give a damn for their Russian analogues?


Blog at WordPress.com.