Punk Protesters Sentenced to Two Years in Russian Jail

An update from CNN on the previous story about the Russian punk trio standing trial for protesting against President Putin in a Russin Orthodox church:

Three members of Russian female punk rock band P—- Riot were sentenced to two years in prison Friday after they were found guilty of hooliganism for performing a song critical of President Vladimir Putin in a church.

The five months they have spent in detention since their arrests in March count toward the sentence, Judge Marina Sirovaya said.

The judge said the charges against the three young women — Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich — had been proved by witnesses and the facts.

Hooliganism seems a fairly vague charge, given the possibility of something more specific, like criminal trespass. However, I wonder if someone can be considered a trespasser in a church that is open to the public. I certainly understand why some church stewards may have found their demonstration in poor taste or even blasphemous, but that hardly qualifies their act as criminal.

Perhaps I’ve missed something about Russian law, but it seems to me that it’s a conveniently trumped up charge to keep the women sequestered until (hopefully for the Putin Administration, at least) the attention blows over and the perpetually-distracted news cycle moves on. In short, I can’t imagine, at least from my cultural context, that such a sentence could be justified as anything less than government bullying.

As for the location of their “Punk Prayer” at the altar of a Russian Orthodox church, this state church has been in the pocket of the government for quite a long time, it turns out. In reading up a little more, the choice of such a church for their protest seems less shocking and more concertedly poignant, given the church’s complicity in promoting the agenda of the Powers that Be. Rather than standing up in the face of authority as an advocate for the poor and oppressed (arguably one of the principal responsibilities of a church), they have joined in the subjugation of human rights in Russia.

So, where better to turn the tables over than in the so-called house of God, turned over time into a gilded bed for political opportunism?

So yes, I’ve changed my tune a bit with respect to the Punk Protest Prayer. Not only was the band protesting against Putin and his minions; they were calling the church out for falling well short of their Gospel-centered mission. Further, they had to know full well the risks they were taking in performing such an act (which can carry a sentence that stretches into the decades). Rather than pulling a dramatic public relations stunt, they were risking not only their professional careers, but also a significant chunk of their lives to bring attention to the oppressive regime controlling their nation.

Never let it be said that I can’t change my mind. Though I still cringe a little at the band’s name, I have to stand in solidarity with their commitment to the cause of freedom. They knew what they were getting into, and they did it anyway, because they believed it was right.

Sounds a lot like Gospel to me.

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  • so the little kiddies, like so many throughout the world, need to learn that actions have consequences. a couple of years of meditative silence should be most ameliorative to their mental health. when they get out, they can get a real job.

    • Fred Eisinga

      What’s your real job? This generation of 20 something is going to impact the world a whole lot more than those people with so-called real jobs……

  • Iain McGill

    Although there are obviously lots and lots of things to be said about Jesus, the two things Nadezhda Tolokonnikova mentioned in her closing statement are both actually true: when God lived amongst us, He was accused of blasphemy by the religious authorities, and was described as having a devil and being mad (John 10.20).
    On a classic scale of 1 to 10, with “1” being more or less like Vladimir Putin and/or Patriarch Kyrill and “10” being more or less like Pussy Riot, whereabouts would you situate Jesus?