Having spent a good deal of time on the Pussy Riot story, aware that there are other stories around, not least in Russia, that may well be of interest I had not intended to return to it quite so soon. Needs, however, must be. What prompted me to change my intentions was the extraordinary amount of ignorant and rather venomous nonsense that has been written about the rather courageous young women. I am talking about ignorance here, rather than deliberate propaganda that is being spread by the Russian authorities, though clearly it has been quite effective with some unexpected people.
The nonsense and the ignorance revolve round some people's inability or reluctance to understand or even try to understand what really goes on in Russia and their equal reluctance to accept that not everything is exactly like their own rather limited experience in life. Thus I have been told by people who have, one assumes, never been near the country or spoken to many Russians that they know exactly how "the Russian people" as a whole feel about the punk prayer. For someone who has studied British attitudes to Russia at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this is all rather old hat. An extraordinary number of people then thought they knew exactly what "the Russian" was like. Those who lived long enough were stunned when "the Russian" started to behave somewhat differently from the way he or she was supposed to, according to the people who knew with such certainty.
Opinion polls show that many people are against Pussy Riot's actions though a number of them distrust the legal case and think the sentence is too harsh, a much smaller number support them and a very large number have no opinion or, much more likely, prefer not to stick their necks out or think too much about a dangerous subject, especially as it is summer and time for berry picking (soon it will be mushroom picking) as well as jam making and salting of cucumbers and tomatoes.
Somewhat belatedly, perhaps mindful of the possibility that the accusations levelled by the young women at the Orthodox Church hierarchy might be looked at by people more seriously, the Church has called for clemency. It is not clear what that might mean at this stage of the proceedings: they should have called for the clemency before sentence was passed not after. Which brings me to some of the silliest comments I have seen on the subject and the suggestions that they should have carried out their protests in a mosque. That, say such commentators with a self-satisfied smirk (it is there in the written words) would have shown them. They would have had considerably worse treatment.
Setting aside the possible psychopathology of people who smirk mentally at the thought of young women (and pretty young women at that) being harshly treated and abused physically, one must ask the question why on earth should they have gone to a mosque? How does a mosque come into the picture? This was not "edgy comedy" as one person described it to me disdainfully of the kind one sees on TV or at Edinburgh, which annoys me considerably as well. This was a political protest. A real political protest against a very nasty authoritarian regime and against the Orthodox Church hierarchy that is the real defiler of the churches and cathedrals, even of the one that was built in the nineties. What would be the point of protesting against their venality, corruption and closeness to the Putin regime in a mosque?
The point that all these people who rush into making comments miss is that the young women of Pussy Riot are Christians and approach the subject from a Christian point of view. Possibly that has become a little hard to understand in the West though I don't think so.
Allow me to link to two excellent pieces on the subject, both published on the other side of the Pond by two people who have actually looked at what the three defendants said in their closing statements. Having read some of their letter from prison and translated one of them into English I can see that the statements confirm what was said in the letters. Here is Charles Cameron on Zenpundit, one of the best sites around and John O'Sullivan, a man who has been quoted several times on this blog, in the NRO Corner.
Oh, and here is another fun story some people might like to read. It tells a few possibly unpalatable truths about the Church hierarchy and, especially, about Patriarch Kirill. I must say I rather like the moniker "Patriarch of Switzerland and all Watches".