Saturday, September 20, 2014


The Power Vertical

Podcast: Has Pussy Riot Already Won?

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot, waves from a police van after a court hearing in Moscow on August 8.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot, waves from a police van after a court hearing in Moscow on August 8.
Three members of the feminist punk rock collective Pussy Riot stole the show in the last day of their trial in Moscow this week.
 
Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were contrite when appropriate, issuing a heartfelt apology for offending Orthodox Christians' religious sensibilities with their controversial protest in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
 
But the three women were also poised, articulate, and forceful in defending their actions in a blistering critique of Putin's authoritarian rule and what they call his abuse of religion for political purposes.
 
In many ways, they managed to turn their own trial into an opportunity to indict Russia's political system and create a public-relations disaster for the Kremlin.
 
On this week's edition of the Power Vertical podcast, I discussed the Pussy Riot case and its broader significance with my regular co-host, Kirill Kobrin, managing editor of RFE/RL's Russian Service.
 
Regardless of what verdict comes down next week, has Pussy Riot already won?

Power Vertical Podcat: Has Pussy Riot Already Won?
Power Vertical Podcat: Has Pussy Riot Already Won?i
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Tags: Aleksei Navalny,Pussy Riot,Power Vertical podcast,language and politics

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Comments
     
by: Ray F. from: Lawrence, KS
August 10, 2012 20:37
I have yet to listen to your podcast, but I think your title might be misleading, or at least, untimely. I sense that there are plenty of Russians who might believe that 3-7 years in prison would be a justifiable term for this ‘crime.’ Their conviction/sentence could prove to be a spark for larger protests, but then again, history does not always move in a positive direction. My guess is that there were smart commentators in the mid-1930s who predicted that Soviet citizens would never swallow the show trials staged by Stalin. Did Bukharin or Kamenev win?

by: La Russophobe from: USA
August 11, 2012 02:57
The headline of this post is asinine and offensive. A young mother may spend three or more years separated from her child and husband. That is not winning, it is losing. The girls have said repeatedly they never intended to pay that kind of price and have begged for mercy. Sometimes, I really wonder what planet this blog is on. Moreover, to refer to Pussy Riot having "managed to turn their own trial into an opportunity to indict Russia's political system and create a public-relations disaster for the Kremlin" is equally as absurd. These girls never had any intention to "indict Russia's political system," they are artists not politicians and they have been shunned by the entire opposition political establishment. Navalny backed away from them from the start. The term "public-relations disaster" is an oxymoron where a dictatorship like the Kremlin is concerned; they simply don't care what the public thinks, and there is absolutely no evidence that they need to. The opposition has dissolved and Putin's power has been consolidated for life.

by: Jack Fate
August 11, 2012 04:59
If the speeches were so good and so important, why didn't RFE/RL translate and publish them?

by: Mark from: Victoria
August 11, 2012 06:40
This just in!!! Are you in legal hot water? Have you done something for which you have been arrested? Think you might need a sharp lawyer, to keep you away from making big rocks into little ones? DON'T BE STUPID!!!!

Adopt the Pussy Riot Defense! Defend yourself - look, it's simple; all you have to do is be contrite when appropriate, and offer a heartfelt apology - whereupon, even though you originally claimed to not even have been present when the incident occurred, the judge's mind will become clouded and he/she will forget you just incriminated yourself by apologizing - throw in some mumbo-jumbo about "reaching out", be bright and articulate, and turn that old trial into an indictment of the system!!

Prison sentences will soon become a thing of the past, since no judge can get by this foolfproof method! Just when they think they've got you, you'll have won!! Don't forget to tell all your public-nuisance friends!

I doubt even the currently-favoured 3-year sentence would have been contemplated - never mind the maximum 7-year sentence - were it not for the screeching and grimacing from the west and the ridiculous assertions that the case has "split Russian society". Dream on. But keep in mind, the more western regime-changers keep talking them up as a big threat to the government and how they're striking a blow for the freedom to jump around in a balaclava in church, the less likely they're going to get a light punishment like community service.

by: Kerry from: Mars
August 11, 2012 09:33
There's a small victory for Radio Forced-Labor-Camp Europe .

by: Anonymous
August 11, 2012 22:50
she looks like beatiful. but this beauty do not make her rightful.

by: Mark from: Victoria
August 13, 2012 02:47
I have to say, Brian, the great majority of these comments sound decidedly negative. This could mean a couple of things: one, your readers who are able to write are tired of airheaded fluff pieces on Pussy Riot and love letters to Navalny, or two, it's time for regime change at The Power Vertical.
In Response

by: Brian Whitmore from: Prague
August 13, 2012 14:47
Or that the majority of readers, the thoughtful ones who have something interesting and relevant to say, avoid the comments section entirely and communicate via other channels.
In Response

by: Mark from: Victoria
August 14, 2012 05:13
Curiously, that's the textbook reaction of every incumbent authority when regime change is mentioned - all those who criticize me/us are dullard halfwits. But yes, that's certainly a possibility, too. I suppose reading the article here and then commenting on it incognito via Twitter or personal email does suggest a certain mysterious and cerebral duality that we proles simply don't get, like Niedermeyer's Double Secret Probation in "Animal House".

I'm afraid, though, that you may have lost La Rusophobe as a fan. And while mad, she was once intensely loyal. Like Johnny Winter sang, it ain't nothin' to me; but you may want to take a dispassionate look at Navalny's relative promise now versus 6 months ago. Does he still merit breathless boosterism? Ditto Pussy Riot - are they really the story of the year? Up to you, of course, and the very best of luck with whatever you decide.

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
August 13, 2012 12:58
Congratulations moderators of Radio Liberty with censorship -a la the Soviet Union .. of 3 comments banned all...Putin called?..or at the request of Mr. Babitsky, who pro-Putin policy in the Caucasus Echo holds?
In Response

by: RFE/RL Editors
August 13, 2012 13:07
Sorry, we have no idea what you're talking about. No comments were disapproved for this article.
In Response

by: Jack from: US
August 13, 2012 13:13
my comments always disappear whenever I state the obvious truth that US government is controlled by Jews
In Response

by: JackFate from: Prague
August 15, 2012 09:29
I'd like to thank RFE/RL's editors for deleting Jack's comments that say nothing but "obvious truths." Say something interesting, Jack.

by: ak from: costa rica
August 14, 2012 18:13
Look at this way-it's equivalent to the Brits or the French or the Germans sending people to prison for offending the sacred minorities of the state religion of PC or Cultural Marxism or whatever you choose to call it. Every organized society has a sense of the sacred. In Russia, apparently, Christianity is sacred. In the West, OTOH, it's certain human groups (like Jews, homosexuals and blacks) that are held sacred.

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
August 15, 2012 11:23
Putin recently said that it was he,who gave the order to train the оssetians bandits, how to kill the Georgians.
Clearly, he said it to spit in the West, which took up a position as an ostrich with it head in the sand-"I see nothing, know nothing,оnly cheap oil and gas.."
The exact same story with Pussy Riot, which we know are in prison on the orders of Putin.
He wanted to spit on public opinion .. he's redneck! do not forget about it.. and this means that he is a boor, a bully squirt....he is prepares to Third World War... what then Pussy Riot.?.
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Another thing is that girl going through Putin's torture chambers are now able to earn good money..
in this context, they certainly won....

About This Blog

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or

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