The crazy glory of Russia. (reflections on the case of Pussy Riot by a dissident from the 70’s)

From “ 22/8 2012, written by Alexandr Podrabinek. That was the name of a jewish human right-activist who spent time in jail under Brezhnev in the 70’s for the reason that he was actively struggling against the soviet, political  psychiatry. I have a suspicion that it is the same person.                                                                                                                            –

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Alexandr Podrabinek in the 70’s – and nowadays


What did the foreigners know about Russia? Matryoschka, vodka and roaring bears on the roads? Later the perspective widened with Sputnik, Gagarin, ballets and perestroika. But it was all long ago.

From those times – only the nuclear bomb is left. But it is no unique russian phenomenon, and nobody marvels nowadays, having heard about it. But the leadership in Kreml , which is consumed by empty national vainglory and longing for the once ruined Soviet empire, do indeed desire – if not to threat the whole world – then after all to make some kind of impression upon it. But no! The grey forces in power does not allow anything colourful to bloom.

And suddenly – Pussy Riot! All the world speak about them, and the rubrics about the court against them goes on the front pages of the most famous newspapers and are mentioned first in news broadcasts on TV. World famous stars in showbiz and in Hollywood take a stand for them , musicians and singers, politicians and writers, mayors of world capitals and also parliamentarians. Finally Russia attracts a world-wide attention!  I suspect that president Putin in secrecy smile and is proud over our country, and that he attributes to himself the amazing success because of Pussy Riot’s PR-campaign. For the reason of such a PR-campaign he gladly would let all the women-ensembles in the country rot in jail together with all the women opera singers, not only the punk performers Tolokonnikova, Alyoschina and Samutsevitj.

But this phenomenal – for being in Russia – defence-campaign for Pussy Riot , inside the country as well as abroad, can not be explained exclusively by the crafty calculation of the Kreml. The role of Kreml here is simple –to sentence and imprison! And such a spontaneous, great and worldwide campaign in defence of political prisoners was not, it is said, since the days of the unlawful isolation of the academician Sakharov in Gorky in the 1980′ s.

It must be said that the exile of Sakharov in Gorky really was a blatantly unlawful act, but it was far from the worst kind of misuse of power at that time. Tens of soviet political prisoners was in much harder circumstances, and they needed even more defence. But the open campaigns follow their own rules. In that situation the international fame Sakharov had as a self-sacrificing scientist and as a receiver of the Nobel peace prize, played a decisive role.

Pussy Riot had no such fame or prizes. Their “crime” and their sentence are not of the toughest kind. Many of those who have been sentenced without any reason but for political ones in Russia, have been accused of much more serious crimes and sentenced much stricter. Why then did the world pay attention to Pussy Riot ?

It is possible that the case against Pussy Riot exposes the tender points not only in Russia, but also in many other countries, also among them that are counted as examples of justice and prosperity. Of course no-one is surprised for a sentence on blasphemy in Iran, or in Saudi-arabia or in Nigeria. But I think about the countries where the human rights are in the constitutional foundation and in all of the judiciary system. The interaction between the whole society and the organised religion is not always blameless in these countries. This is obvious from perpetual discussions connected with the approach of the Church towards issues of abortions and contraception, equality between the sexes and women priests. This leads to direct collisions between religious intolerance and freedom of speech – as for example – when it came to publishing the caricatures of the prophet Mohammed. These controversies are reflected in such normative systems as for example the british discussion about a ban on wearing crucifixes visibly, or the french laws which forbids women to wear the burqa in public places.

Seeking for a balance between the freedom of the individual and the moral of the community, between the religious rituals and the civil character of the state is something very sensitive , and not so simple even from a judiciary point of view. This is why the clumsy decision of the Chamovnichesky-court in the case of Pussy Riot made an extremely loathsome impression on the West, who energetically seeks compromises between freedom, religion, morals and politics.

But here in Russia such problems are solved in an undivided russian way: it is simple, unreflected and does always cause harm for the individual. And because of it, we are again famous over all the world, but not so as many had wished.