Pussy Riot found guilty, local and global protests today

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We're all Pussy Riot now.
PHOTO BY IGOR MUKHIN

Today, three members of the Russian activist punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in prison for “hooliganism” stemming from an incident in February, when the trio performed its anti-Putin “Punk Prayer” inside a Russian Orthodox cathedral

Following the verdict, there will be global protests today including one at the Russian Consulate in San Francisco at 3pm and at Justin Herman Plaza at 6:30pm.

It's a case that has sparked international interest, and become a cause célèbre for musicians and feminists worldwide. Those who have spoken out against the harsh treatment of the trio (who were kept in a cage during the trial, and forced, along with the entire courtroom, to stand for two hours while the judge droned on with the verdict) include Kathleen Hanna – who called the trial a farce – and Yoko Ono, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, Peaches, and dozens more.

During that verdict reading, the judge said Pussy Riot "committed an act of hooliganism, a gross violation of public order showing obvious disrespect for society."

According to Reuters, Moscow's US embassy said the sentence appeared disproportionate to what the defendants did.

The women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Marina Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30 (two of whom are mothers to young children) have said the performance, in which they donned colorful ski masks,was a protest against Vladimir Putin's ties with the church. The song was less than a minute long, and now the group is set to spend two years in prison for it.

The lyrics of the “Punk Prayer” are below:

St. Maria, Virgin, Drive away Putin
Drive away! Drive away Putin!
(end chorus)

Black robe, golden epaulettes
All parishioners are crawling and bowing
The ghost of freedom is in heaven
Gay pride sent to Siberia in chains

The head of the KGB is their chief saint
Leads protesters to prison under escort
In order not to offend the Holy
Women have to give birth and to love

Holy shit, shit, Lord's shit!
Holy shit, shit, Lord's shit!

(Chorus)
St. Maria, Virgin, become a feminist
Become a feminist, Become a feminist
(end chorus)

Church praises the rotten dictators
The cross-bearer procession of black limousines
In school you are going to meet with a teacher-preacher
Go to class - bring him money!

Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin
Bitch, you better believed in God
Belt of the Virgin is no substitute for mass-meetings
In protest of our Ever-Virgin Mary!

(Chorus)
St. Maria, Virgin, Drive away Putin
Drive away! Drive away Putin!
(end chorus)

The case, of course, extends far beyond this activist band, questioning bubbling questions of free speech in Putin's Russia. Thousands are taking a stand, protesting in Barcelona, Berlin, Bonn, Dublin, Hamburg, Kaliningrad, Kiev, London, M
arseille, Melbourne, Moscow, München/Munich, Murmansk, Nantes, New York City, Nice, Odessa, Paris, Perm, Reykjavik, Riga, Samara, Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Toulouse, Tournai, Belgium, Tver, Västerås, Vilinus, Warszawa, Wien/Vienna  – and San Francisco.

Russian Consulate protest
Fri/17, 3pm
2790 Green, SF

Justin Herman Plaza protest
Fri/17, 6:30pm
One Market, SF

Comments

is about as articulate as a 10-year-old girl.

Posted by Orwell's Uterus on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 9:54 am

These are some righteous sisters and Putin is a disgusting thug. They deserve our support.

Posted by Troll II on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 10:17 am

when this story has cycled out of the news, no one will care any more.

Posted by Chromefields on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 10:36 am

Putin's only crime is not laying down for the imperatives of the US empire which crushes dissent at home while piously insisting that others must not.

Posted by marcos on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 11:17 am

for standing up to the US by putting three women in prison for two years for dancing and singing in a church.

Posted by Troll II on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 11:29 am

Because nobody rots in jail here for committing no real crimes against anyone or anything.

Posted by marcos on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

of skinhead youths in front of crowd of 2500 cheering onlookers until you were three seconds from death. Then they'd kick your skull in a couple more times to make sure it was a done deal. And it wouldn't be for dissent, it would be for being gay and Jewish and too loud.

And this is the guy you want to defend? You ever really notice that being contrarian to *everything* sometime makes you kind of an ass hat?

Posted by Guest@yahoo.com on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 10:13 am

No sooner did I type my last post about typical American ignorance, than another poster gives me a perfect case in point.

Let me school you. The kinds of Russian skinhead groups you're talking about are generally quite anti-Putin. They're part of the "opposition."

Posted by Greg on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 11:25 am

You want an international outrage? Protest the British Consulate!

Seriously. This is one of the most appalling cases of misdirected outrage I've ever seen. Look, I think the ruling is too heavy-handed. Yeah, it sux these clowns are going to spend some jail time for a crime that essentially amounts to disturbing the peace. But you know what? Let's be real here and have some perspective.

First, let's remember that The Land of the Free just instituted mass arrests, police violence, and jail time for protesters doing much less offensive things than disrupting a church service with a song about "the lord's shit." [their lyrics, not mine].
So please, spare us the sanctimonious bullshit and clean up your own house before you wag your finger at others.

Secondly, as heavy-handed as the ruling was, these garage-band wanna-bes are basically nobodies, and the only reason they're in the news is that they did something for shock value. Not cool to put them in jail for it, but there's a much bigger international outrage than this, and the good 'ol US of A has everything to do with it.

...
Right now Julian Assange, who frankly should be a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize for risking his fucking life to bring us the truth about horrific government (and corporate) crimes, is instead sitting in the Ecuadorian Embassy to avoid being handed over to the Americans for torture.

It's a dirty shame that neither Sweden nor the UK nor his own country of Australia stood up for his human rights. Instead, it took a tiny, independent democracy in Latin America to show the world what respect for human rights means .Whose president, incidentally, is frankly risking his own life to do the right thing. But this isn't what I'm most outraged about. Oh no, it gets much, much worse.

Yesterday, after Ecuador granted Assange asylum, the UK, a supposed democracy which supposedly upholds the rule of law, did something so jaw-droppingly outrageous that it is beyond comprehension. A foreign ministry spokesperson actually wrote a letter to Ecuador threatening to go *into* their embassy and ARREST Julian Assange ANYWAY!!!

OH. MY. FUCKING. GOD.

This is something that NO ONE, not even the worst dictatorship, does. Asylum is sacrosanct. The Ecuadorian Embassy is legally Ecuadorian soil. This is set in stone. It's the whole basis for the 1951 Geneva Conventions on asylum. When that blind Chinese guy, a critic of the one child per family policy, escaped house arrest and somehow made it to the US embassy, even China relented and let him board a plane. Which is generally what happens.

But the UK, no doubt under heavy pressure from the US, is not only not letting Assange get on a plane to Ecuador, but is threatening to do something so far outside of international norms, that no rogue state has ever done anything of the sort.

And this is where all these sanctimonious American and British washed-up musicians come in. Their OWN countries are right now committing a gross violation of the most sacred of diplomatic conventions. It's something affecting their OWN countries, not just some internal matter halfway across the world. Plus, the underlying issue is *far* more important in the Assange case. And what the hell are they doing? They're protesting on behalf of Pussy Riot! Give me a friggin break!

I will say one thing about this whole sordid affair. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has some serious balls, and he's willing to do the right thing. For that, Assange is supremely lucky. But it would have probably been wiser if he had picked a country with a little bit more clout than Ecuador. Like... oh, say, Russia. Russia has some serious issues, but it does provide some little bit of balance against US hegemony. If those crumpet-eaters would've DARED threaten to storm the *Russian* embassy to yank an asylum seeker protected under the Geneva Conventions, Putin would have told them to stick their British Empire where the sun don't shine. Bastards think this is still the 19th century.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

And pen your own poorly-written piece on the sadness of Julian Assange and the complexity of the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations (that's right dumbfuck - you keep referring to the GENEVA Conventions when what you're really talking about are the Vienna Conventions).

You are so dumb it almost makes me sad to have to school you because you make it too damned easy.

Posted by Troll II on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 7:53 am

"Poorly written" or not, it really got your goat, didn't it?

I'm referring to this 1951 convention signed in Geneva:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_Relating_to_the_Status_of_Refugees

It deals with the rights of asylum seekers within it. But yes, thank you for pointing out (albeit in a way that demonstrates that you're a dick), that the UK's actions ALSO violate the 1961 Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations.

Regardless of whether the UK is violating 50 years, or 60 years, of international norms and conventions, my main point still stands. And that is that they ARE violating EVERY norm and convention in an absolutely unprecedented manner.
-This is being done by a supposed western democracy
-The ultimate pressure is coming from our own country, the US
-It's FAR more egregious of a violation than what Russia has done
-It's a far more important case
-We've done far worse dealing with our own protest movements. (Yeah... imagine if Occupy went into Grace Cathedral and started singing a song about "the lord's shit" in the middle of the service)
-The victim, Julian Assange, has done far more to advance the cause of democracy and human rights around the world, and has taken far more risks to do so, than some shitty garage punk band who no one ever heard of.

Again, I'm not saying that the court ruling wasn't heavy-handed. But considering all the above points, seeing all these American and British rockers raise a shitstorm about a (somewhat) excessive sentence for a crappy band's tantrum halfway across the world, all the while remaining totally silent about a much more important and egregious case right under their noses... well it's just bizarre.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 8:35 am

Pussy Riot is one defining the freedom to protest in a country ruled by a dictator who routinely uses the justice system to harass and imprison his opponents. They're opponents of a dictatorial regime in a state with a long history of persecuting artists who often times represent one of the few voices speaking up for democratic and humanitarian values (remember that Pussy Riot's protest piece references the lack of GLBT rights in Russia).

The other is, as you admit yourself, a bit more complex. It's also interesting that Assange is wanted for two sexual assaults and you're ignoring that salient fact in your discussion of the issue - what about the rights of the two women in Sweden who claim they were sexually assaulted? Why, in every one of these discussions centering around Mirkarimi or Assange, do the rights of the victim(s) never (or rarely) come up? Assange also stuck his supporters with the cost of paying his $250,000 bond, which he forfeited when he entered the embassy - that's pretty damned shitty if you ask me.

Posted by Troll II on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 8:47 am

"It's also interesting that Assange is wanted for two sexual assaults and you're ignoring that salient fact in your discussion of the issue - what about the rights of the two women in Sweden who claim they were sexually assaulted?"

It's interesting that both women have ties to the CIA. Frankly, you have no right to talk. You trolls were downright vicious towards Eliana Lopez, the "victim" in the Mirkarimi case . Do her rights matter?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 2:16 pm

What is it with your constant defense of men who either physically abuse (Ross Mirkarimi) or sexually abuse (Julian Assange) women? Julian Assange's sexual abuse of two women is hardly something to build a free speech case on.

And I challenge you to give anyone here factual evidence of either of the two Swedes having anything to do with either CIA or the Swedish Security Service. That's the worst sort of leftist McCarthyism and you know it.

Posted by Troll II on Aug. 21, 2012 @ 11:24 am

it's refreshing to see women finally being treated equally under the law. being held accountable for one's actions is a sign of adulthood, which women have trouble achieving.

don't bend over for the soap, ladies.

Posted by yobi on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 5:54 am

Troll, the *current* issue surrounding Assange is not complex at all, and I "admitted" no such thing. Important, far-reaching, yes. Complex? No. Assange has been granted asylum. Britain needs to act within the norms of the civilized world -no, scratch that -the WHOLE world. Period. End of story. Look, I think Assange is a hero who deserves the nobel peace prize, because he risked his life for the cause of human rights and democracy. And I make no bones about it. But let me be clear -*whatever* you think of Assange, threatening to storm an embassy to arrest someone granted asylum is completely beyond the pale. Not to mention incredibly stupid. Imagine if China, instead of letting the blind guy board a plane for the US, had asserted a non-existent "right" to storm the US embassy to arrest the guy. You'd be having a shitfit. There is no "complexity" here. It's a gross violation and it sets a horrible precedent for the next time someone unhappy with China's or Russia's legal system walks into a western embassy.

The Russia issue is actually much *more* complex. First of all, let's drop the unnecessary hyperbole. Today's Russia, while not totally free, is not a dictatorship. It can best be described as a flawed democracy, very much like the United States. There are differences, but those differences are more a matter of degrees.

Do they manipulate elections? Sure. But so do we. Unlimited corporate dominance of the media, ballot rules that make it incredibly difficult to break the pro-capitalist Demopublican duopoly, voter suppression laws, electronic voting prone to manipulation, purges of voter lists, felon disenfranchisement, blatant violations of the one-person/one-vote rules through the electoral college and composition of the Senate, and when all else fails the Supreme Court just overturns the election and the guy who wins fewer votes AND fewer electoral college "votes" STILL takes power. So, please, don't tell me about Russia being a "dictatorship."

Putin happens to be genuinely popular, because he has increased living standards and orchestrated a Russian resurgence on the world stage. Whether there were some irregularities or not, there's no question that he won his election in a legitimate landslide. And I have some more news for you... the strongest opposition to Putin doesn't come from anyone Washington supports. The only other serious organized party that has any support at all, is the Communist Party. The people Washington supports -the neolibs like Yavlinsky, a corporate darling who now mainly spends his time traveling the world making speeches at corporate think tanks; or the perennial protester Navalny... these guys have near zero support in the polls. They're the electoral equivalent of Lyndon LaRouche in Russia. But they have punk bands with provocative names doing publicity stunts for them!

Same goes for parliament -the last parliamentary election saw Putin's party top the vote yet again. Was it manipulated? Probably. How much? Well, let's put it this way, Russia expert Professor Stephen Cohen estimated that instead of winning 50% -20% over their next highest challengers the Communists, they probably won more like 40% -30%. Proportions for democratic socialists and ultranationalists of a little over 10% each were about right. All in all, compared to how much political diversity *our* system allows, the amount of political diversity allowed in Russia is clearly greater than in the US government/congress.

Now, the folks Washington supports, and the perennial shock-value protestors like Pussy Riot... those guys didn't pass the electoral threshold to get into parliament. But let's be clear... it's NOT because Putin "cracked down" on them in some way. It's because they have no support among the Russian electorate.

And how could they? There is real opposition to Putin that has some support -in the form of Communists, Democratic Socialists, and ultranationists... and they did get into parliament. But the "opposition" that we hold up and idolize here is mainly of two varieties.
1. Suited neoliberal types who want to privatize Russia's assets and sell them off to the highest foreign bidder. Tried that in the 1990s, and it was a disaster. These people are intellectually bankrupt. They have no ideas on how to keep their country strong and improve living standards, which is why they have no support.
2. Assorted rioters, perennial protestors, demagogues, and garage-band wanna-bes. Their "leaders" are mainly opportunists, and their followers are mainly youth who want to have a good time and party. With friends like them, the first group scarcely needs enemies.

And now enter Pussy Riot. This is probably the harshest sentence that a Russian court has yet handed down under the category of "suppressing political speech." But you know what? Their actions were also the among the most shocking thing that protestors claiming "political speech" have done to date. They did everything but drop their pants and take a dump in the middle of the church. If some American protestors did what they did, they'd be in jail too. Personally, I'm pretty tolerant of shocking protests. I think it would've been appropriate to have them spend the night in jail to sober up and pay a fine. But I'm not shedding crocodile tears, or pretending that they're Nelson Mandelas or anything.

They did it for shock value, for self-promotion, and they pretty much got what they wanted. They shocked the country. And now they're famous, in a way that their music alone could never have achieved for them. I hope they enjoy their newfound notoriety.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 10:22 am

I hope I had a chance to give a little more perspective both about this situation and how it compares on a larger scale, and specifically about the situation in Russia, which honestly most Americans know little about.

But there's one observation that still needs to be made. Why is it that people just come out of the woodwork to denounce supposed violations of human rights -just anywhere but in their own country? In fact, the people who are quickest to mock, ridicule, and denounce dissenters in America are the same ones who come out of the woodwork to "defend human rights" anywhere but here. Gee, how courageous of you! It must give you such a warm fuzzy feeling.

You ever wonder why Americans are so resented abroad? It's because of this level of ignorance about the world around them, and how their government relates to the world, coupled -perversely -with an overridding arrogance that their point of view is the only truth there is.

It's an ugly combination.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 11:20 am

and guess what, *maybe* three people actually read it.

You spent an entire Saturday morning defending Vladimir Putin? Wow... Ok. Apparently you're on a life mission to take up shitty causes everywhere, from San Francisco to Russia, and go all in defending them.

That's cool. Just know that you're essentially talking to yourself here.

Posted by Scram on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

I hope the author did too. The article was written on such a one-sided and superficial level, lacking so much context, that there was a lot I felt should be conveyed.

Sorry if I put a strain on your short span of attention. It must be hard for minds accustomed to reality shows and local news to grasp so much at one time. As is often the case, information sufficient to fully understand a topic cannot be conveyed in soundbites.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 7:08 pm
Posted by Troll II on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

Being critical of Russia's human rights record does not equate to being utterly blind to injustices that take place in America.

That's a ridiculous assertion, and that's why nobody is reading them.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 19, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

I love how one troll after another is coming onto this forum just to tell me that nobody is reading what I wrote. Man, that's rich.

You can't argue on the merits, because you know very little about the subject you'd be expressing an opinion about... but, but, you still have this burning desire to say something disagreeable. Dammit! So this is all you've got... "Uh.. uh... well nobody likes you! So there!" Dude, that's just sad.

Another one of your weaknesses is that you apparently don't grasp the concept of irony, accusing me of arguing with a straw man by saying this:

"Being critical of Russia's human rights record does not equate to being utterly blind to injustices that take place in America. That's a ridiculous assertion"

I made no such assertion. I said... what I said. It speaks for itself.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 19, 2012 @ 7:55 pm

Because you folk often try and make hero's out of people like Kenneth Harding.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

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