Pussy Riot jailed. Speak out for them once more.

I would say I'm shocked by the news that Nadezhda, Maria and Ekaterina, members of punk band Pussy Riot, have been jailed for 2 years for 'hooliganism on the grounds of religous hatred'. But I am not shocked. It does not surprise me at all that Putin's Russia has taken this step to try and silence dissent and criticism. 

I am angry. Angry that three young women are paying with their freedom for speaking out against a regime so determined to silence all critics. It should not be this way - free speech and freedom to protest are basic human rights. Stand with us and show your support

A quick reminder of the 'crime' Pussy Riot committed: they sang a protest song in Moscow's main Orthodox church, 'Virgin Mary, redeem us of Putin', criticising Putin and the relationship between church and state. Whilst its content will have offended some, it was a legitimate protest. Their trial was over in just 8 days, and most defense witnesses were never allowed to take the stand.

Now isn't the time to go quietly. We must continue to make noise for Pussy Riot, to show the Russian authorities we we won't forget this travesty of justice. We need you to give just two minutes do two things:

1. Show your support for Pussy Riot - change your profile pictures

Make sure everyone knows we're going to continue to demand freedom for Pussy Riot. Add our 'Free Pussy Riot!' balaclava to your profile pictures on Twitter and Facebook - just click the image to the left and follow the instructions.

Don't want to add a balaclava? Hit the share buttons and help make noise for Pussy Riot:

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2. Send a message of support to Pussy Riot

As Maria, Nadezhda and Ekaterina come to terms with the unjust blow they have been dealt show these women you will not give up. It's more important than ever to tell them that you care, that you will stand by them and continue to call for their release.

Leave your message of support, and we'll send them to Maria, Nadezhda and Ekaterina through their lawyer.

It's vital we don't go quiet just because the trial is over. All of your support, all of the public noise, has got us this far. Let's not stop now.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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15 comments

"Whilst its content will have offended some, it was a legitimate protest."

So neo-Nazis can do the same in a synagogue or Ulster loyalists in a Catholic church in Belfast?

So, not true the same activity is illegal in every other country in Europe, and also in Russia. If they had done it in a public square, perhaps not illegal, though certainly a potential problem in Britain, with the way hate crime and public order are dealt with in the UK.

Pussy Riot called the Patriarch of Russia a bitch in his own cathedral!

Gregory Carlin 6 years ago


This is not a free speech case, there is very little case law to support that contention. Nobody has ever had a free pass @ ECHR for doing that sort of thing in a church.

I would not say the precedents were too hopeful. For e.g Vejdeland and others v Sweden. I would say undue sentencing and lack of bail were the working complaints.

http://www.echr.coe.int/NR/rdonlyres/D5D909DE-CDAB-4392-A8A0-867A77699169/0/FICHES_Discours_de_haine_EN.pdf

One can substitute 'church' for 'school' and the language used by Pussy Riot was if anything worse.

(a) serious and prejudicial allegations
(b) the targeted audience
(c) the protected context: a church
(d) the statements 'unnecessarily offensive'.

They will need to be very lucky indeed to get a protected speech ruling, I would say given they will have the sympathy of the court, a one in ten chance at most. The ECHR may think the two years being overly severe.

However, no apology, no regret etc. So maybe not even that.

Gregory Carlin 6 years ago

But Neo-Nazis and Ulster Loyalsists are allowed to protest. It may be unpopular but that is not reason to silence them.

However your comparison is invalid because unlike Neo-Nazis, Pussy Riot is not a hate group. And unlike Ulster Loyalists their political activism isn't tied to decades of simmering sectarian violence.

This is really a free speech issue. What are the implications of this sentence in Russia now? Can the Russian courts now silence people because what they say might offend some people? Certainly now options for protesting against the church and the government in Russia are more limited and more risky.

Cut what, you say, what if they had protested ina school. Oh my. Won't somebody think of the children!!! Why chuck that up? They didn't protest in a school did they. And why would they? It has nothing to do with the ties between Putin and the RO church. They sung a vulgar song and called some silly old men rude names. Men that really should have been big enough to take it on the chin. And for that they got 2 years? Are you really going to want to justify that?

Do you really want three young people to have 2 years of their lives stolen from them because some rich and powerful dudes in embroidered frocks and funny hats got a little offended?

Chris Hartley 6 years ago

I had never heard of Pussy Riot before this whole affair appeared in the media. However, I'm fairly confident in being able to say that the relations and history between Nazis and Jews, Ulster loyalists and Catholics in Belfast is very, very different compared to the relations and history between Pussy Riot and Vladimir Putin and the Russian Church!

I don't think that many (if any) people are saying "Well done to Pussy Riot, give them the Russian equivalent of a Community Action Trust Reward". On the other hand most people (including myself) are saying "Please don't lock them up for TWO YEARS just for being rude and disrespectful to their elders".

Dave.Clax 6 years ago

Pussy Riot seem to hate Putin and the Russian Patriarch!

Look at it this way, a Punk band get a theoretical two years in prison (they are nominated for compassionate release) and the western world has over 5,000 media articles, and all that without Malcolm McLaren.

Why should the US President, State Dept, OSCE, virtually every NATO foreign minister care about a punk band? The USA doesn't even issue statements about US citizens harshly imprisoned overseas! So, why for a Russian punk band?

I hope Pussy Riot get out of jail ASAP and I think Russia needs a foreign NGO law. Because NATO foreign ministers don't care about foreign punk bands protesting in churches. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Gregory Carlin 6 years ago

Pussy Riot's supporters are destroying memorials to the Ukrainian genocide and Stalinist repression.

Gregory Carlin 6 years ago

Stay strong. There are so many people on your side. Your message has rung loud 'round the world. Bud'te sil'nymi!

jmijnssen 6 years ago

Did Amnesty know about the cathedral thing in advance, is this campaign one of the cognizant in advance type?

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/amnesty-international-supports-anti-catholic-bigotry-during-gay-pride-belfa

That kind of thing? Will Amnesty be asking Pussy Riot's supporters to stop destroying memorials and public property, and ask them to leave Russian war memorials in peace?

I think the ECHR aspects have taken a profound dip, one now has crime linked to the Pussy Riot escapade right across Europe, and it is not petty crime, one lady chainsawed a huge huge dedicated to the Ukrainian genocide, the mass hunger perpetrated by the Bolsheviks.

I would respectfully ask, did Amnesty know in advance about the Cathedral stunt? Is it possible, Amnesty were kept apprised during the planning stages?

Gregory Carlin 6 years ago

Pussy Riot supporters destroyed a memorial to the victims of the NKVD in Kiev. "On the day of the sentencing, the FEMEN women's movement expresses its support and respect for its Russian colleagues from the group Pussy Riot. FEMEN activists have taken down a cross in solidarity with the victims of the Kremlin-pope regime," The cross was actually put up by Transcarpathian uniates in memory of the people martyred by ChK and NKVD in the 1920s and the 1930s, so Pussy Riot's supporters targeted Greek Catholics by mistake, the Transcarpathian Uniates are in communion with Rome.

Gregory Carlin 6 years ago

Hi Gregory, as my colleague Niluccio has <a href="https://www2.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/press-release-me-let-me-go/pussy-riot-travesty-mockery-sham">answered on another post</a>, Amnesty, of course, knew nothing about this protest in advance. As Niluccio has also said, we'd urge people to stay within the law when showing their support for Pussy Riot - but they should show their support.
Lastly, as we've said elsewhere, this sentence is part of a bigger picture of Russia's increasing harshness toward dissent and protest. Jailing three women for two years for a short political protest in a cathedral is part of a wider clampdown on protest in the country. The Article 31 campaigners, anti-Putin camapigners, gay rights campaigners - all these groups are finding it almost impossible to gather anywhere in public in Russia without being arrested. The - quite ludicrous - 100-year ban on gay pride marches in Moscow is just another example of this.

EmersonStaff 6 years ago

From reading the many blog comments on this site there seems to be many people commenting over the rights to free speech, religion and the idea of hate speech on this issue.

However I would like to comment on the charge of "hooliganism". This in itself is a very loose charge which could be used for just about anything. For instance this has been used in Azerbaijan against activists on a blog site who parodied the govt by dressing up as donkeys :

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=18665

Any legal system that has such a broad charge must be looked at with the deepest suspicion. Therefore if the Russian govt wish to charge these women with something a lot more concrete then they should. If not then they should go free.

By the way the debate about the substance to the charge is pointless unless the above happens.

Daveyboy 6 years ago

Emerson,

The simple fact of the matter is that Amnesty's campaign has resulted in a global spate of unlawfulness. I would caution your offices to desist from encouraging children and young people to protest wearing Pussy Riot masks.

For e.g. a number of European countries for reasons of terrorism etc. or other considerations, allow or empower the police to arrest demonstrators wearing ski-masks, even brightly colored masks.

The naked outrages by the Pussy Riot franchise at the same Moscow Cathedral in December 2011 were ignored, I don't think one can honestly say the Russian police did not turn a blind eye for as long as they could. There were too many complaints and they were obliged to act.

There is no legal basis for Amnesty's campaign, it is a spoof campaign documented only by the irrelevant waffle provided by your organisation in one form or another to the Russians.

Whether there are other issues, is completely irrelevant, the matter at hand, is that Pussy Riot were truly involved in crime, and they were guilty of the crimes they were charged with. What Pussy Riot did it is universally illegal across Europe, including Britain and Ireland, despite fake claims to the contrary.

There is not a single piece of case law anywhere within the EU, to support the contention that Pussy Riot were engaged in protected speech. The way to resolve the matter is through the courts, not by encouraging kids to break the law by wearing masks, or copycat violations.

From a legal point of view, based on the documents the Russians have released, Amnesty has a spoof campaign. For e.g. Article 18, of the UDHR the one before Article 19, :) mandates that the recent disruption at Koln is unlawful, and also the stunts at the Cathedral in Moscow.

The Russians see Amnesty as using a brazenly criminal stunt to leverage other things.

Gregory


Pussy Riot Protestors In Germany Escorted Out Of Cologne ... ‎
Huffington Post - 11 hours ago
The three members of Pussy Riot -- Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alekhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30 -- were arrested in ...
Pussy Riot copycats booted from German cathedral‎ RT
Pussy Galore‎ German Herald
all 1465 news articles »

Gregory Carlin 6 years ago

Dear Amnesty,

Amnesty UK is claiming on Facebook, the videos were faked.

'Pussy Riot's stunts have been political protests during the presidential elections. There was a concerted campaign to slur their reputations before their trial including fabricated images and videos.
We believe all of this is part of the crackdown against free speech we're seeing in Putin's Russia, and this is why we run events like our Edinburgh programme - so we can highlight injustices to the widest audience possible.'

Would you mind supplying the evidence for that? Some of the people attending Amnesty's protests are children, and that it s an issue in Ireland.

So, is Amnesty's position that Putin, rather than being a defender of faith and family, has a dirty tricks dept making chicken videos?

I have a problem with that, because nobody attended Pussy Riot demos in the time-frame suggested, absolutely nobody, the protesters such as they were could squeeze into a Lincoln town car.

So where is the evidence for the faked videos?

G.


http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2012/0823/1224322753285.html


OPINION: PUSSY RIOT have provoked an outpouring of hypocrisy across the western world. The very media outlets that praise the band loudest are studiously careful to censor certain facts about their newly anointed heroes for free speech.

For example, few report that previous protests by members of the group include staging an orgy in a Moscow museum and publicly masturbating with a chicken leg in a supermarket. Nor are the lyrics of their songs – deeply offensive to many Christians – usually printed.

Gregory Carlin 6 years ago

AI sure has gone down the tubes over the last few decades... I think it started when the served the first Bush Amministration's agenda by backing the "babies tossed out of Kuwaiti incubators by Saddam" story... I felt they never did own up their mistake, and take corrective action. Next thing I know, the local chapter is backing the ritual abuse hoax. I didn't understand why, until a friend tipped me off to the Barbara Bocek story:

http://www.piila.com/News/012604.html

Apparently AI's research methods aren't rigorous enough to protect them from a hoax.

When I look at this Pussy Riot business, and see the kind of people that are now in charge at AI (the same sort of folks that in the past took them for a ride for political purposes, I have to wonder if AI is now perpetrating the hoaxes.

Suzanne Nossel is Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, since January 2, 2012.[1]

She was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (US State Dept.) in 2009. She is former Chief Operating Officer of Human Rights Watch. Earlier, she has been Vice President of Strategy and Operations for the Wall Street Journal, from 2005 to 2007. After leaving the UN, she worked as vice-president of U.S. Business Development for Bertelsman Media (2001–2005). She has served as a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, the Center for American Progress and the Council on Foreign Relations. [2]

Nossel is credited with coining the term “Smart Power” the title of a 2004 Foreign Affairs article in which she proposed a policy of Liberal Internationalism, outlining the concept of the U.S. using military power as well as other forms of “soft power,” an approach which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made a defining feature of U.S. foreign policy.

mattlove1 6 years ago

It is a fake issue, for the prohibition on such stunts to be legal, it merely has to serve public morals. Pussy Riot emanate from a Spahn Movie Ranch group-think gonzo pornography environment which only became more striking with the crime scene message with the killing two women in the city of Kazan. I don't think Amnesty actually have any lawyers, their documents are nonsense. Article 19 UDHR does not subordinate Article 18, and if it did, one would have an analysis. The Pussy riot issue is entirely bogus.

Gregory Carlin 6 years ago