Streams

The Pussy Riot Trial in Russia

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Members of the band, Pussy Riot, are on trial in Russia. Nina Khrushcheva, a professor in the International Affairs Program at the New School, senior fellow at World Policy Institute and author of Imagining Nabokov: Russia Between Art and Politics, and Masha Lipman, the editor of the Pro et Contra journal, published by Carnegie Moscow Center, and contributor to The New Yorker's website about the trial, discuss what it says about the Putin regime, free speech in Russia, and the protest movement there.

Guests:

Nina Khrushcheva and Masha Lipman

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Comments [14]

Nadia Kizenko from East Village, NYC

Your choice of interviewees for this story was curious. To be sure, the PR fracas touches on issues of free speech, political protest, punk performance, and modernism. But, no less than any of these, it is also an issue of religion. The PR women chose not to perform on Red Square, or outside the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Instead, they parodied well-known prayers not only inside a cathedral, but on a space where normally only ordained clerics go. Clips of their performance *did* genuinely outrage Orthodox believers. Not in a sound-bite way, but deeply and gravely.

There are many articulate Orthodox Christian intellectuals, journalists, and academics (not to mention clerics), both in Russia and outside it, who are fluent in English. You might have easily (and here I name only a few of the best known) contact Andrei Zolotov, Anna Danilova, or Xenia Loutchenko. They might have told you something that a listener of your program would not have gleaned from the purely secular, detached commentary you did present. And that is that, while liberal Orthodox Christians (and they do exist) decry the action of the PR women, they also think that putting them on trial has served to make them martyrs and to give them more attention than they deserve. They thus favor releasing them as quickly and as quietly as possible.

This is not to say the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church has not dealt with this matter disastrously (it has), nor that the close relation of the Church hierarchy with Putin's government is not worthy of criticism. But it is simply to say that, if something had similar had occurred in St. Patrick's Cathedral, or in Central Synagogue or Temple Emanu-El, you would have--at a minimum--have asked a representative of the Roman Catholic or Jewish faiths, respectively, to comment on what they thought of the profanation of their sacred space.

May I suggest that, when the results of this landmark trial are made known, you extend the same elementary courtesy to representatives of Russian Orthodox Christianity.

Aug. 16 2012 04:41 PM

John, I believe they're using the P word to talk about the lead singers love of cats.

Agree 100% with the Sheldon the crook commentary.
Sarah Silverman is trying to stop this guy at: Scissor Sheldon . com

Aug. 16 2012 11:56 AM
gary from queens

There is nothing so ignorant as to assume that anti hate speech laws in europe have been fueled by Islamic pressure groups, in order to curtail legitimate criticism of islamist supremacy ideology as dictated by shar'ah law.

Aug. 16 2012 11:04 AM
pliny from soho

ere's a slightly abridged version of Yekaterina Samutsevich's, translated by Chtodelat News, where you find the entire remarks:

Why did Putin feel the need to exploit the Orthodox religion and its aesthetics? After all, he could have employed his own, far more secular tools of power-for example, national corporations, or his menacing police system, or his own obedient judiciary system. It may be that the tough, failed policies of Putin's government, the incident with the submarine Kursk, the bombings of civilians in broad daylight, and other unpleasant moments in his political career forced him to ponder the fact that it was high time to resign; otherwise, the citizens of Russia would help him do this. Apparently, it was then that he felt the need for more convincing, transcendental guarantees of his long tenure at the helm. It was here that the need arose to make use of the aesthetics of the Orthodox religion, historically associated with the heyday of Imperial Russia, where power came not from earthly manifestations such as democratic elections and civil society, but from God Himself.

How did he succeed in doing this? After all, we still have a secular state, and shouldn't any intersection of the religious and political spheres be dealt with severely by our vigilant and critically minded society? Here, apparently, the authorities took advantage of a certain deficit of Orthodox aesthetics in Soviet times, when the Orthodox religion had the aura of a lost history, of something crushed and damaged by the Soviet totalitarian regime, and was thus an opposition culture. The authorities decided to appropriate this historical effect of loss and present their new political project to restore Russia's lost spiritual values, a project which has little to do with a genuine concern for preservation of Russian Orthodoxy's history and culture.

It was also fairly logical that the Russian Orthodox Church, which has long had a mystical connection with power, emerged as this project's principal executor in the media. Moreover, it was also agreed that the Russian Orthodox Church, unlike the Soviet era, when the church opposed, above all, the crudeness of the authorities towards history itself, should also confront all baleful manifestations of contemporary mass culture, with its concept of diversity and tolerance.

Aug. 16 2012 10:48 AM

There is nothing so cowardly as the exclusive coverage of non-Muslim prosecutions of charges involving sacrilege, blasphemy, or heresy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=Is71zKEiMdk&feature=endscreen

Aug. 16 2012 10:48 AM
Glork from Glen Ridge, NJ

Perhaps they should have performed in a performance venue... perhaps the real issue here was "performing" in a house of worship. Regardless of the message, how willing would WE here in the US be to tolerate an outburst of this nature in a cathedral, mosque or synagogue where active prayer and worship was taking place?

Aug. 16 2012 10:46 AM
The Truth from Becky

WTH???

Aug. 16 2012 10:42 AM
gary from queens

"Freedom of speech" Brian?!

There isn't any such freedom in europe, especially with the influence of islamic immigrants who are ordered by mainstream islamic institutions not to assimilate in their host countries.

Liberals in the US always use europe as an example of the ideal. Especially it's statism policies, like government healthcare.

Well, hate speech laws is the result of statism's "government knows best and can decide what is good or bad speech".

Should we copy that "virtue" of the european system?

Aug. 16 2012 10:40 AM

russia is not a free nation. where's the news here?

Aug. 16 2012 10:39 AM

@john from office...

Presume you had no problem with The Pussycat Dolls...So what's your beef here? Context is everything.

Aug. 16 2012 10:39 AM
IOH from NYC

Solidarity Actions in NYC for Pussy Riot

WHERE: 9am, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church 15 E 97th St, (6 train to 96th Street) and 10am, Russian Consulate 9 East 91st Street
PLEASE: Bring signs, wear bright colors (see Pussy Riot for inspiration) and bring a noisemaker and/or stringed instrument. Don’t forget to bring your balaclava masque.

And later:
Pussy Riot March on Madison
WHAT: from the Upper East Side to Times Square
WHERE: Madison Avenue from 91st to 42nd street
WHEN: 11am-1pm (approx)
PLEASE: Bring signs, wear bright colors (see Pussy Riot for inspiration) and bring a noisemaker and/or stringed instrument.

MIDDAY ACTION: Times Square Rally
WHERE: 46th Street and Broadway
WHEN: 1-2pm

ALSO:
There is a Thursday evening reading of court testimonies 7:30pm at Liberty Hall at the Ace Hotel. Facebook invite here: https://www.facebook.com/events/336406896449171/

Free Pussy Riot!

http://www.facebook.com/events/262241200554708/
http://www.inourheartsnyc.org/2012/08/12/pussy-riot-solidarity-action/

Aug. 16 2012 10:33 AM
BL Show Moderator

Please stay on topic and civil as per the comment guidelines. Thanks.

--BL Show Moderator

Aug. 16 2012 08:59 AM
john from office

Interesting how the media is ok with using the name "PUSSY RIOT" freely. What exactly is a Pussy Riot?? and What does Pussy mean??

Why not the fall back postion, THE P WORD, to avoid explaining to children what a pussy riot is?? We no have THE F WORD and THE N WORD??

Aug. 16 2012 08:43 AM
john from office

This trial is alot like the Bo trial in China, showcasing how there really is no rule of law, but a legal system controled by the political system. Like when some billionaire ends up in jail in Russia on "tax evasion".

But look at the times today and that fact that Corzine will not be presecuted for MF Global's collapse, or that Goldman Sachs will not ever see a criminal trial. We may be better as a legal system, but are not immune to political influence.

Sheldon Adelson, who wants to buy the White house, is doing so to avoid a criminal trial under a Romney (I should Say Ryan) administration.

Aug. 16 2012 08:26 AM

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