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closing statement
August 9, 2012 10:39 AM   Subscribe

"I now have mixed feelings about this trial. On the one hand, we now expect a guilty verdict. Compared to the judicial machine, we are nobodies, and we have lost. On the other hand, we have won. Now the whole world sees that the criminal case against us has been fabricated. The system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial. Once again, Russia looks different in the eyes of the world from the way Putin tries to present it at daily international meetings. All the steps toward a state governed by the rule of law that he promised have obviously not been made. And his statement that the court in our case will be objective and make a fair decision is another deception of the entire country and the international community. That is all. Thank you." - Yekaterina Samutsevich: Closing Statement at the Pussy Riot Trial
posted by flapjax at midnite (66 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
I am very sad about the fact of this trial, but I have enjoyed reading the phrase "Pussy Riot" in the Financial Times every day for a week.
posted by shothotbot at 10:47 AM on August 9, 2012 [14 favorites]


Wow, that's a good read. Thank you for posting it.

Can someone speak to its accuracy? I don't know enough about Russian politics (...yet. I think I'll spend some time reading this evening).
posted by ODiV at 10:52 AM on August 9, 2012


Russia has become the Soviet Union minus the pretense of equality
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:58 AM on August 9, 2012 [22 favorites]


You know, this is quite seriously one of the most cogent diagnoses of the problem of the intermingling of the secular and the sacred that I have ever read. I'd understood vaguely that Pussy Riot were drawing critical attention to the way that Putin had appropriated religious imagery and used the Russian Orthodox Church as an institutional ally for his creeping autocracy. But what I had not understood is the underlying pragmatic reasons that Putin needed to make this move. Nor had it been clear to me that there was a real history to this kind of political redefinition in Russia. I'd thought of Putin as simply a cynical political actor, but Samutsevich is saying that he's actually transforming the nature of political authority in Russia, dragging it back to older, pre-Modern forms of sovereignty.

The name "Pussy Riot" makes it very easy to assume that these women are self-indulgent, irresponsible provocateurs. But this is very nuanced political analysis and it helps to make sense of exactly what was being done in their act of civil disruption. It makes me think that they may yet win.

Russia, why must your leaders be such thugs and your dissidents so articulate?

Thanks for this, flapjax. I'm going to be chewing on this for a while, I think.
posted by R. Schlock at 11:00 AM on August 9, 2012 [10 favorites]


I think Yekaterina Samutsevich's closing statement is basically accurate, though I dont think the judgement will make any international actor look at Russia differently. But the point of the trial is not to put Pussy Riot in jail, the point is to have a chilling effect on dissent in Russia and I bet it has succeeded. The huge fines now due for those who do dare to protest are part of the same, successful strategy.
posted by shothotbot at 11:03 AM on August 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Punk rock. And I mean that in the best way.
posted by fungible at 11:14 AM on August 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


NPR won't mention the band name. They don't even bleep it. They just call them "the punchers," which is shitty/shoddy reporting in my opinion.

I've been following this case off and on. The other day Putin said he found no value in the performance, but that he hoped the courts would be lenient. Some were saying this is Putin declaring them guilty before there's even a trial!

These women have already spent 5 months in jail. They face up to 7 years.

I've already decided if they are found guilty and are given additional jail time I am going to make a video in which I profane Putin's image. Then I'm burning it to DVD, mailing him a copy, and putting it up on YouTube. Just to let him know what it's like to live in a country where I can do this sort of thing.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:25 AM on August 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


"the punchers" = punkers (damn auto-correct)
posted by cjorgensen at 11:26 AM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thus ended our complicated punk adventure in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

Now that is understatement.

It's curious how this group (and the 'art-action' collective, who painted the penis on the drawbridge) - are getting such better, coherent press. Not that I think their 'message' is more deserving than other groups' but their message is getting out in a coherent and (relatively) concise way. I give these women big big props for that.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:29 AM on August 9, 2012


NPR won't mention the band name.

Wait, what?
posted by rtha at 11:36 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


It sounded like one of the female NPR announcers might have been refusing to say Pussy Riot -- her wording made it seem like she was very carefully avoiding the nominative. (Maybe Renee Montagne? They all sound so similar that it's hard to tell.) But the correspondent they cut to, I think someone permanently posted in Russia, was more than happy to.

That's one thing I've come to really like about the BBC -- their voices are much more distinctive, some with quite different accents.
posted by Malor at 11:51 AM on August 9, 2012


Wait, what?

Kickass. I am glad to see they corrected that. I listened to a very clumsy piece because they were going out of their way to avoid saying "Pussy Riot." it was one of the first times I'd heard of the case. They didn't bother with a disclaimer saying why they wouldn't say the name, they just skipped it. I kept wanting to know the name. Later I read about it online, and thought that was the editorial position they were going to take.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:52 AM on August 9, 2012


cjorgensen: "NPR won't mention the band name. They don't even bleep it. They just call them "the punchers," which is shitty/shoddy reporting in my opinion."

My dad got in hot water at the community radio station for playing some feminist punk rock where the women used "bitch" in an empowering way, because some women might be offended. These were hypothetical women.

Liberals are so milquetoast.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:57 AM on August 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


There's an interesting clip floating around show Putin rebuffing a priest who goes to kiss his hand. Supposedly monks would only kiss the Tsar's hand.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:06 PM on August 9, 2012


I note that the words "from god himself" are capitalized in the translation, while in the original they are not ("от самого бога").
posted by hat_eater at 12:07 PM on August 9, 2012


I am going to make a video in which I profane Putin's image. Then I'm burning it to DVD, mailing him a copy, and putting it up on YouTube. Just to let him know what it's like to live in a country where I can do this sort of thing.

Good luck, I wouldn't be surprised if YouTube takes it down due to a copyright claim from whomever owns Putin's image in the U.S. (either Scripps or the NYT).
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:26 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's an interesting clip floating around show Putin rebuffing a priest who goes to kiss his hand. Supposedly monks would only kiss the Tsar's hand.

Yeah, that's one bit of speculation floating around, but there's a lot more going on here.
posted by Jahaza at 12:28 PM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's great when you can use an anecdote about your Dad's community radio station manager to generalize about liberals. Classic.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:34 PM on August 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


The Guardian has been reporting this all week and the partner of one of the defendants has been writing a column. If I was writing this FPP I would have led with this quote: "Feminism is a mortal sin."

Profiles of the Defendants: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova ; Maria Alyokhina ; Yekaterina Samutsevich.

This article ran a couple of weeks ago and sets out some of the key issues.
posted by biffa at 12:35 PM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Liberals are so milquetoast.

These particular "liberals" don't seem so milquetoast.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:38 PM on August 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


Hey now.
posted by milquetoast at 12:40 PM on August 9, 2012 [34 favorites]


Classic.
posted by R. Schlock at 12:41 PM on August 9, 2012


The name "Pussy Riot" makes it very easy to assume that these women are self-indulgent, irresponsible provocateurs.

Why?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:49 PM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]



Liberals are so milquetoast.

These particular "liberals" don't seem so milquetoast.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:38 PM on August 9 [1 favorite +] [!]


Hey now.
posted by milquetoast at 12:40 PM on August 9 [5 favorites +] [!]


Come on now, you know very well you are milquetoast.
posted by Mojojojo at 12:54 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


lazaruslong: "It's great when you can use an anecdote about your Dad's community radio station manager to generalize about liberals. Classic."

His dad's name is Rush.
posted by klanawa at 12:55 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The name "Pussy Riot" makes it very easy to assume that these women are self-indulgent, irresponsible provocateurs.

Why?


You've obviously never owned a cat
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:56 PM on August 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have heard so many beautiful BBC radio voices say 'Pussy Riot.' I know that's not really important, not really, not in the scheme of things, and thank you for this post, and I'm going to go read it now. But god, I love hearing posh women and men say 'Pussy Riot' and then say something about the FTSE 100 or whatever.
posted by samofidelis at 1:02 PM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the post, but I'm sorry you focused only on Samutsevich; all three women made terrific statements, and I personally was at least as impressed by Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who said: "Even though we are behind bars, we are freer than those people. We can say what we want, while they can only say what political censorship allows." It's even more eloquent in Russian: "Мы свободней, чем все эти люди, которые сидят против нас в обвинении. Потому что мы можем говорить, что хотим. И мы говорим, что хотим." (Full text in Russian here.) Russians should be proud of them; I know I am.
posted by languagehat at 1:07 PM on August 9, 2012 [17 favorites]


I've been watching this whole debacle pretty much right from the beginning (albeit not too closely). At first I thought the 'punk-prayer' was a stupid stunt to pull (especially in a church) and that these girls had rightfully deserved ten or fifteen days of cell time. Over time, I came to realize that what they did was more than just petty hooliganism, that it was actually the finest public performance of the Voina group, as it brought to light some things that the Russian society as a whole had probably sensed, yet had not been fully aware of -- like the close ties between the church and the (seemingly secular) state, or the corruption of the church. Lately, though, it's starting to look like their trial is just another symptom of something far more than that: I agree with Leonid Kaganov (a popular Russian sci-fi author and TV personality) when he states that the Russian people are living 'at a turning point of an era and at the same time understand that [they] personally can not influence [the] events.'

I can't help but wonder, however, if this could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. That the Pussy Riot girls will be convicted and sent to jail exactly because everyone either truly believes they deserve to be sent to prison or assumes they will be sent to prison because it's only logical they should be sent to prison, since this is the way things were done in the Soviet era; Putin, of course, being a great fan of the Soviet Union. That Putin can get away with the things he does only (or mostly) because it fits their pattern of what an autocratic leader (or an autocratic system) does. That the feeling of helplessness, of not being able to influence the events only comes from being told that you alone can not change the world, whereas in reality, it doesn't take much to tip the balance in another way.
posted by daniel_charms at 1:20 PM on August 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


TheWhiteSkull: "These particular "liberals" don't seem so milquetoast."

The ones avoiding saying the name of the band because they don't want to offend somebody?
posted by dunkadunc at 1:36 PM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, the band itself. I would argue that they fall somewhere along the "liberal" spectrum (ok, I'm guessing actually anarchist), and certainly in opposition to the conservative, authoritarian, and theocratic power structure of Putin's Russia. They are anything but 'milquetoast'.

Free Pussy Riot.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:03 PM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


"The ones avoiding saying the name of the band because they don't want to offend somebody?"

No, the other ones that you painted with your stupidly broad brush, like many of us, and Pussy Riot themselves.
posted by rollbiz at 2:11 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Russia has become the Soviet Union minus the pretense of equality

“Oligarchical Collectivism”, as the political thinker Emmanuel Goldstein called it.
posted by acb at 2:31 PM on August 9, 2012


Just finished The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. Depressing. Inasmuch as "evil" means anything, Putin is evil.

I truly believe the FSB engineered the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings.

The simple, sad, brutal lesson from Mexico, Russia and elsewhere is: kill all journalists who dare to investigate your crimes. No journalist, no problem.
posted by jcruelty at 2:58 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Russia has become the Soviet Union minus the pretense of equality

Well, that pretense of equality was the US Government's only real beef with the Russian State to begin with. Sorry, Pussy Riot.
posted by absalom at 3:03 PM on August 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Saying shit like that in court takes balls.
posted by telstar at 3:16 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, the band itself. I would argue that they fall somewhere along the "liberal" spectrum (ok, I'm guessing actually anarchist), and certainly in opposition to the conservative, authoritarian, and theocratic power structure of Putin's Russia. They are anything but 'milquetoast'.

Most anarchists use the term 'liberal' like it's a cuss-word. One of my favorite political jokes goes something like this:

'What's worse than leftist infighting?'
'IDK, what?'
'FUCKING LIBERALS'

That said, I agree with your sentiment. Free Pussy Riot.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 3:47 PM on August 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, "liberal" does not mean "along with conservative, one of the two sides in politics", mainstream American discourse to the contrary.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:14 PM on August 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'd understood vaguely that Pussy Riot were drawing critical attention to the way that Putin had appropriated religious imagery and used the Russian Orthodox Church as an institutional ally for his creeping autocracy. But what I had not understood is the underlying pragmatic reasons that Putin needed to make this move. Nor had it been clear to me that there was a real history to this kind of political redefinition in Russia. I'd thought of Putin as simply a cynical political actor, but Samutsevich is saying that he's actually transforming the nature of political authority in Russia, dragging it back to older, pre-Modern forms of sovereignty.

Caesaropapism
posted by dhens at 4:33 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


, that it was actually the finest public performance of the Voina group,

Really? Better than getting fucked doggystyle in a museum while 9 months pregnant, doing a naked photoshoot with cockroaches or publicly stuffing a dead chicken into one's vagina?
posted by c13 at 5:25 PM on August 9, 2012


It depresses me to think that right now the only thing keeping us from a new cold war is that Putin hasn't found a reason to start it up again. But give him time and he most likely will.
posted by happyroach at 7:24 PM on August 9, 2012


Now that Mitt Romney is saber-rattling about Russia, what I wouldn't give for some journalist to ask him his position about the Pussy Riot trial?
posted by jonp72 at 7:28 PM on August 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


The thoughts about the church being the host and endorsement of the ruling party's propaganda, and how it took a punk band to show them up, rather reminds me of the relationship between Islam, Malaysian politics, and youth culture (inc black metal and other alt music).

Both main sides of Malaysian non-grassroots politics use Islam as a way to make themselves look better, and each keeps trying to out-Muslim the other while paying lip service to multiculturalism. The ruling center-right party has even invented a strain of Islam (Badawi's Islam Hadhari) while locking up other "religious deviants" (i remember an article from an Islamic scholar who wasn't allowed entry into the Islamic University of Malaysia because he was a Shi'ite, and I grew up often being told "you're doing Islam wrong" just because it wasn't exactly how Malay Muslims learnt to practice it, despite Malaysia not being the birth country of Muhammad). Their main Opposition coalition consists of a far-right Islamic party, socialists, and Anwar Ibrahim - facing attempts at having his name smeared for "sodomy" but actually more religious than people realise.

In 2001 "black metal" became the big anti-Islamic bogeyman, very much in the style of the Satanic rituals moral panic. Various genres of alternative music and media - ESPECIALLY blogging, the only mass media form to not require government permits for publication thanks to a promise by Mahathir meant at attracting foreign investment, I bet he regrets that now - were all lumped as anti-Government rebels, always the puppets of "foreign Zionist agents". The kids are smoking and drinking and having promiscuous sex onoes! Photos of festivals got republished in tabloid papers as evidence of orgies of depravity, and the Government believed the tabloids more than the original alt press even after the trickery was proven.

In 2006, ringing in the new year, punk bands and random passersby were arrested again on Black Metal charges. A venue owner reports a question from a journalist asking if it was true that "live goats were on stage", responding with a quip about mutton curry. See, you can't trust the youth, they commit mortal sins and insult Islam by insulting the Government! Youth culture is corrupt (damn foreign Jews). Remember the Riots of 1969! IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN IF YOU DON'T BEHAVE.

In the meantime, and since then: bloggers are arrested without trial for "being a threat to national security" - even for crimes of posting an upside-down flag on the blog. In the next big election the Government loses their 2/3rds majority for the first time since independence (still winning, but unable to amend the Constitution at whim). A number of newly elected senators and MPs are popular bloggers (the Gov tries to ruin the reputation of one of them, Elizabeth Wong, by claiming leaked photos of her sleeping in the "nude" - tanktop and sarong - by an ex make her unfit to be a leader; she is forced to resign.).

A few months ago the Gov proposes a law that makes bloggers and webhosts liable for any "seditious" comment posted by anyone else on their comment sections (even anonymous trolls), as well as seditious content placed by hackers/crackers. I don't know if that law is still on.

When i saw all the attention Pussy Riot was getting i deeply wished Malaysia's youth, esp the bloggers and bandmates, got as much attention or support from overseas. (most i could see was temporary coverage on boingboing; the links don't work anymore.) Malaysia is desperate for attention, esp international - but any coverage that is not 100% positive is "foreign Zionist agents" meddling. It's been a while since I've had much to do with the country, asides from only gaining citizenship on my 26th birthday last year (despite being born & raised in the country). During an interview for citizenship i was asked about my most important contribution as a citizen - then was told the correct answer was "vote for the ruling party because we gave you the gift of permanent residency".
posted by divabat at 7:38 PM on August 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


On a trajectory running from roughly the late 17th century to now, I would say 'Anarchism', particularly its radical individualist elements, falls on a continuum of 'Liberalism' that does not necessarily correspond with current American definitons.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:54 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


$50 to the first person who mentions Michel Mourre.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:20 PM on August 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Anarchism is anti-liberal, opposing liberal conceptions of what constitutes both "liberty" and "property".
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:56 PM on August 9, 2012


I would agree with you on the 'property' point. 'Liberty' is more problematic.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:05 PM on August 9, 2012


Really? Better than getting fucked doggystyle in a museum while 9 months pregnant, doing a naked photoshoot with cockroaches or publicly stuffing a dead chicken into one's vagina?

Ok, so it doesn't quite beat publicly stuffing a dead chicken into one's vagina, but it's still one of their finest stunts.
posted by daniel_charms at 10:33 PM on August 9, 2012


I would agree with you on the 'property' point. 'Liberty' is more problematic.

I don't think that you can really separate property and liberty in a liberal framework.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:57 PM on August 9, 2012


I wonder how much coverage this would be getting if not for the name? I remember a couple months ago looking at one of those posts about abandoned nuclear sites or something on englishrussia, and seeing a link about the "Pussy Riot Trial", and ended up reading some article on this totally random English language website about Russian legal news. But without that name I probably wouldn't have clicked the link.

Also interesting is that "Pussy Riot" isn't a translation, their name is in english, and spelled with roman letters, rather then cyrillic.
posted by delmoi at 4:29 AM on August 10, 2012


But without that name I probably wouldn't have clicked the link.

Yup, it's a good name.

Also interesting is that "Pussy Riot" isn't a translation, their name is in english, and spelled with roman letters, rather then cyrillic.

Of course, that's not at all unusual. All around the world, from Russia to Japan to South America to... just about anywhere, you'll find bands with English names.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:07 AM on August 10, 2012


> All around the world, from Russia to Japan to South America to... just about anywhere, you'll find bands with English names.

But it's different when they use a different alphabet. It would be one thing to have an American band called Sputnik (there doubtless is one somewhere), quite another for them to go by Спутник—and have it printed that way in English-language publications.
posted by languagehat at 7:42 AM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, there is that.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:45 AM on August 10, 2012


But it's different when they use a different alphabet.

LH certainly knows the social attitude to the Roman alphabet in Russia, but the Japanese seem to use Romaji quite happily.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:48 AM on August 10, 2012


Michel Mourre.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:26 PM on August 10, 2012


Oh, the Russians use the Latin alphabet quite happily, too. I wasn't saying they didn't, just pointing out that it's not the same as a French or Spanish band called Pussy Riot. I wish we English-speakers were a little more cosmopolitan that way, but we're just dipping our toes into the dangerous waters of using accents other than the ones used in French and Spanish.
posted by languagehat at 3:17 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


TNR: Pussy Riot v. Putin: A Front Row Seat at a Russian Dark Comedy
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:13 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


RetroPop: Madonna, Adrienne Rich, and Pussy Riot
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:06 AM on August 14, 2012


In other news: Putin’s Prosecutors Threaten Protest Blogger With Decade in Jail

Kremlin Wiretaps Dissident Blogger — Who Tweets the Bug
posted by homunculus at 6:23 PM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


dunkadunc: Liberals are so milquetoast.
True, but at least we aren't misogynistic racist homophobes. Ad hominem stereotypes are fun!

Or, more to the point, US broadcasters are milquetoast, due to the heavyhanded interference of the FCC.

(shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits)
posted by IAmBroom at 1:12 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The verdict is to be announced today (August 17). Around the world protests will be held in support of Pussy Riot.
posted by parudox at 9:16 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pussy Riot A Rallying Cry For Russian Expats
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:26 PM on August 16, 2012


Guardian live feed: guilty
posted by K.P. at 4:40 AM on August 17, 2012


Putin's message: if you're pro Pussy Riot you're against the Orthodox church. You might think an unjust trial would damage Putin, but it fits with his strategy of pitting 'simple people' against the 'creative class'

Putin v punk: The band's trial will not be the last as prosecution becomes the Russian government's weapon of choice against dissent
posted by homunculus at 12:27 PM on August 17, 2012


homunculus: "pitting 'simple people' against the 'creative class'"

That's what they've done in the US. Think of all the vitriol against 'latte-sippers'.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:43 PM on August 17, 2012


Although they don't touch on the Pussy Riot case, I was listening today to these two Frontline Club events: Russia: Another six years of Vladimir Putin? and Russia - A mafia state?. The former contains a horrific account of the extent of the corruption in the country, in particular the Sergei Magnitsky case; the latter is derived from Luke Harding's book.
posted by Grangousier at 5:19 PM on August 17, 2012


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