Western artists weigh in on Pussy Riot case
Following the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Faith No More, and Franz Ferdinand, Stephen Fry has also had his say in defense of the girls. As the plot thickens, the court increasingly resembles a reality show.
On July 31, British actor and writer Stephen Fry joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Genesis, Faith No More, Franz Ferdinand, Sting, jazz pianist Iiro Rantala, and many other artists in criticizing the arrest of the members of Pussy Riot. He expressed his protest on Twitter, where he published a link to an article in The Independent titled “Pussy Riot to appear before the court and test Putin's patience” while commenting: “Put pressure on Putin!”
The American group Anti-Flag with the support of the Berlin groups Radio Havanna and Smile and Burn are planning a concert of solidarity in Berlin. The world-renowned artists expressed their support for the Russian punk group during their concerts in Russia in July. Red Hot Chili Peppers’ vocalist Anthony Kiedis appeared on the scene wearing a t-shirt with “Pussy Riot” printed on it. Faith No More invited the remaining group members of Pussy Riot to share the stage with them. Sting commented on the case directly before his concert.
There are many elements in the Pussy Riot case that, even being taken separately, could cause a sharp reaction on the part of the Western public opinion. The defendants of the group are young mothers, as well as feminists and musicians. The whole set of aspects has acquired an explosive character.
Western analysts emphasize the fact that music is art. Seeing as the press keeps calling the girls nothing but “musicians”, it is not surprising that average people assume that they are being tried for their creativity.
In fact, the participants of the group are actually being charged with a gross violation of public order and “inflicting considerable mental suffering to persons who found their spiritual home in the service of the Orthodox ideas.” Although the girls agreed that the church was not a proper place for carrying out their act of protest, they did not plead guilty.
One of the defendants, Maria Alekhina, emphasized that their intentions had been misinterpreted. The activists did not feel hatred, religious or otherwise, towards Orthodox believers – the more so that she was an orthodox believer herself.
“The purpose of our performance was to attract the attention of the Russian clergy, the rector of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, and of Patriarch Kirill. Being the representatives of our generation, we are confused by his actions and appeals. We wanted to enter into a dialogue, and we still want it. We wanted to attract attention to ourselves in order to question Patriarch Kirill about his repeated statements that Orthodox Christians should vote for Putin at the elections,” Alekhina said. The scandalous German singer Nina Hagen, known as the “mother of punk”, has also given her view on this case. In one of the interviews, the singer urged the Orthodox Church to have mercy:
“I appeal to Russia’s Christian heart – please, show mercy and love to your neighbor. After all, the essence of Christianity lies in the ability to forgive. I hope the girls will be released soon,” Deutsche Welle website quotes Hagen’s words.
There is even more ambiguous attitude towards Pussy Riot in political circles. During his regular video conference, Chairman of The Other Russia coalition Eduard Limonov refused to express his position on this case, barely noticing that the translation of the group’s name was extremely vulgar, and that it was indecent to discuss it in public. During the second hearing of the Pussy Riot case on July 31, the press published an appeal by the representative of the ruling United Russia party, head of Vasileostrovsky Executive Committee Valery Fedotov. He said that the Pussy Riot case “makes our country the laughingstock of the world and an international symbol of lawlessness that reigns in Russia.”
At the same time, the Supreme Ataman of the Cossacks’ Union of Russia Pavel Zadorozhny is worrying that only three girls were detained, even though there were more members in the group. In addition, he believes that journalists and bloggers were involved in the action, and therefore they must be punished, too:
“There is no reaction on the part of the Prosecutor's Office and law enforcement agencies regarding the fact that the Internet and other mass media continue to insult the religious feelings of believers. The weblog of the participants of the provocation is accessible to all. It is aimed not only at insulting religious feelings of believers, but also at humiliating the human dignity of all Orthodox people and the Russian Orthodox Church clergy,” Zadorozhny’s appeal to the leadership of the country and Patriarch Kirill reads.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Ekaterina Samutsevitch, and Maria Alekhina were arrested in February after they had performed the song “Mother of God, send Putin away!” in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in central Moscow. They are accused of hooliganism in accordance with the Article 213 of the Criminal Code. The girls are facing up to seven years imprisonment.