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The Daily Vertical: From Pussy Riot To Pokemon Go (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

Oh, what a difference four years can make.

When members of the feminist collective Pussy Riot were prosecuted and imprisoned for performing a "punk prayer" in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral in the summer of 2012, it was a sensation. It made global headlines.

But the current prosecution of blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky for playing Pokemon Go in the Church of All Saints in Yekaterinburg? Well that's considered pretty much routine.

Of course Russia is prosecuting somebody for misbehaving in church. Of course he could face five years in prison.

Isn't that, after all, just par for the course?

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But the road from Pussy Riot to Pokemon Go actually speaks volumes.

It speaks volumes about the growing power of the ultra-conservative Russian Orthodox Church, which appears to have been elevated to being the guardian of a state ideology.

Insulting it, or even questioning its authority, is now a crime.

It speaks volumes about the ever-widening list of things you can be prosecuted for in Vladimir Putin's Russia.

According to the Sova Center, no less than 26 people are currently in prison solely for things they said.

And it speaks volumes about how the regime is increasingly prepared to use show trials, not only to prosecute dissidents but to educate the broader public about what is and isn't permissible.

Like with Pussy Riot, Russian state media is giving the Sokolovsky case broad coverage. For the Kremlin, this is just another teachable moment.

So the goalposts keep moving. What was once excessive and shockingly repressive, is now just mundane.

Keep telling me what you think on The Power Vertical's Twitter feed and on our Facebook page.

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