Orthodox Russians: No Free Pass for Pussy Riot

by W.F. Price on August 7, 2012

Despite calls for mercy from international celebrities such as Madonna, prosecutors are seeking three-year prison sentences for three Russian women who desecrated a church in a planned publicity stunt intended to promote their band.

Prosecutors on Tuesday called for three-year sentences for the members of a feminist punk band who performed an anti-Vladimir Putin stunt in Moscow’s main cathedral, ignoring demands by human rights groups that the three women be set free.

Prosecutor Alexander Nikiforov portrayed the request as lenient, saying it takes into account the fact that two of the defendants are young mothers and that they have good references.

The hooliganism charges the three women face can carry a sentence of up to 7 years in prison.

The three women – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23; Maria Alekhina, 24; and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 – have been in custody for five months following the February stunt, in which they took over a church pulpit in Christ the Savior cathedral for less than a minute, singing, high-kicking and dancing.

Their case is part of a widening government crackdown on dissent that followed Putin’s election in March and caused strong protests in Russia and abroad. Musicians including Madonna, the Who’s Pete Townshend and Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys have urged their release, and Amnesty International has called them prisoners of conscience.

The majority of Russians have little sympathy for the women, who are self-described feminists, but they are receiving a fair amount of support from the usual crowd of Westerners that sees any desecration of Christian symbols as a positive thing.

Although I, too, am inclined to see the sentence as a bit excessive, and would settle for a couple months community service along the lines of shoveling horse manure in police stables, these kinds of things ought to be put in perspective.

Say, for example, some skinheads burst into a Muslim service and started playing white power songs in one of New York’s main Mosques. What would their sentence likely be? I think they’d be very lucky to get off with only three years, and Amnesty International certainly wouldn’t take up their case.

Cases like these very clearly demonstrate the West’s political priorities, which in some ways have traded places with the former Soviet Union, which notoriously burned and shut down Christian churches across the land under Communism. As for the feminists, they are starting to look more and more like political tools in service to a vague, but powerful ruling ideology that has emerged in the West.

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