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The Pussy Riot Case: The World Awaits the Verdict
17.08.2012 14:24
The Pussy Riot Case: The World Awaits the Verdict
Pussy Riot band members

Today, on Friday 17 2012, security measures around the Khamovnichesky Court in Moscow have been strengthened significantly: the verdict in the Pussy Riot trial is finally to be announced  at 3pm Moscow time (12pm GMT). The journalists are just beginning to make way into the court chamber, and there will be likely some battling for best filming and reporting positions in there.

      In the build-up to the Friday event several more protests took place and more voices of support went towards the girls. Sir Paul McCartney sent his, while the Ukrainian Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, the leader of Okean Elsy band, said on Twitter that while it was foolish to dance in the Cathedral, it would be even more foolish to sentence for it.

      Meanwhile, several protest actions took place in Moscow and elsewhere. Yekaterinburg citizens held their impromptu meeting, while in Moscow over a dozen of people gathered on the stairs of Christ the Saviour Cathedral holding cards with letters that read "Blessed are the merciful". These otherwise peaceful protesters were promptly dispersed by the police. On Friday, Interfax agency reported an eyewitness's account of a Pussy Riot balaclava's being put on the face of the statue to Mikhail Lomonosov, the founder of the eponymous Russian University, that stands in front of the University's main building in Vorobyovy Hills. The eyewitness claimed that the balaclava was promptly taken off. 

      Professor Teivo Teivainen of the University of Helsinki has endured further professional and moral damage from the Russian media who falsely claimed that he was facing criminal charges for the Pussy Riot themed performance by the Assumption Cathedral in Helsinki on August 3, 2012. The University of Helsinki has issued an official correction request to the media worldwide, and the Russian media in particular. It should be noted that many Russian tabloids and public forums not merely helped to spread the sinister rumours but deliberately ignored the correct information and the available commentators, including Prof. Teivainen himself.

      The general public opinion that once again has been largely ignored by the Russian official media agrees that the Pussy Riot action at the Cathedral, for all its role in expressing the political opinion by all available means, was something that could certainly offend the Orthodox faithful. In spite of that, many people, including the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, believe that the whole case received too much attention and outgrew its own importance. The Pussy Riot girls (who were recently nominated for the coveted Kandinsky Prize) did not produce any truly challenging piece of art that would justify such excessive commentary from the public and the media, let alone the prolonged trial. This part of the Russian society generally agrees that girls could be subjected to a fine and most certainly ordered to wash the floors in Christ the Saviour Cathedral. However, their act that did not involve any physical damage to either clergy or the cathedral's interior absolutely cannot justify a prison sentence of any length. 

      Another peculiar point is that the Russian Orthodox Church is officially separated from the State, yet the role the believers and the clergy played in the trial makes one wonder if the ecclesiastical powers are paving the way towards a wider control of the State and the society. 

      Whatever is the verdict, one thing is clear: in spite of the obvious desire to be seen as a world player, the Russian Government and society seriously fails to see its actions in the worldwide context.   


Author: Julia Shuvalova

Tags: Russian society Pussy Riot Russian politics Moscow  

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