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Vladimir Putin: No Pussy Riot On His Watch

Above: Video of the performance that got three Moscow punk rockers arrested

If he were still alive, Frank Zappa would have a field day with this one.

Just when we thought the Montgomery County sheriff's department was setting the standard for dodgy tactics and thought control with Friday's suspicious preemptive arrest of local activist Aaron Brown prior to the Sarah Palin/Ted Cruz event in The Woodlands, we were reminded once again of what thought suppression looks like.

If you didn't see it in the headlines, back in March three alleged members of Russian female punk band Pussy Riot were arrested for performing a protest song against Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow's main cathedral. The performance has divided Russia, with some supporting the women and demanding wider freedom while the Orthodox establishment has called for severe punishment as an example of the limits on individual expression.

Here is Amnesty International's statement on the detention of three women:

Amnesty International today demanded that Russia immediately release three young women arrested for allegedly singing a protest song that criticizes both the Orthodox Church and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Several members of a music group called "Pussy Riot," with their faces covered in balaclavas, sang a protest song entitled, "Virgin Mary, Redeem Us of Putin," on Feb. 21 at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. The song criticizes the support shown by some representatives of the Orthodox Church to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and calls on the Virgin Mary to become a feminist and banish Putin.

The Russian authorities subsequently arrested Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova on March 4, and Ekaterina Samusevich on March 15, claiming that they were the masked singers. Although the women admit to being members of the group, they deny any involvement in the protest in the cathedral.

 

As with much politically provocative performance art, it's easily apparent that the women were making a political statement similar to the one Brown was trying to make at the Montgomery County event for Republican senatorial candidate Ted Cruz, a favorite of the local Tea Party organization.

While Brown was arrested for "disorderly conduct," the Russian women were detained without bail on charges of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility." So much for freedom of expression in Moscow and The Woodlands.

In further developments, some 30 protesters -- some supporters of the detained women and some Orthodox radicals -- were arrested outside an initial court hearing in April, which involved eggs being thrown and a flare being set off. In another protest in support of the group, a local artist sewed his lips shut and stood with a banner outside the courthouse.

The women face a maximum sentence of seven years in prison if convicted. All three pleaded not guilty. The trial began yesterday.

Mr. Putin has informed the court that he will not give testimony in the trial. Rocks Off is in touch with Amnesty International, which is monitoring the trial through a source on the ground in Moscow. We will update this story as and when details become available.

Once the legal matters have been settled, Rocks Off can only hope that the girls of Pussy Riot will do a show in beautiful downtown Conroe.


Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.


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