My social media stream is full of people praising Google for taking a ‘brave’ stand against the Russian state. Why? Well, today’s Google Doodle is a rainbow themed Winter Olympics Graphic.
The Russian Government has recently passed blasphemy laws and other measures that restrict freedom of expression. They have also passed a ‘gay propaganda’ law which bans discussion of homosexuality around minors – an attack on the already embattled homosexual community in Russia.
Following the news that two members of Pussy Riot have been sent to remote penal colonies in Russia, UCB Radio asked me on to Paul Hammond’s show on to discuss ‘Politics and the Pulpit’.
Is a church an appropriate place for political messages? There are two aspects to this question. The first is whether activists should protest in a Church. Was the uninvited ‘hooliganism’ of Pussy Riot justified? I cited the example of Jesus himself, who caused havoc in the Temple in what was surely a political as well as spiritual protest (see, for example, Mark 11-15). Continue reading
Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.
Yesterday in a Moscow court-room, two of the three Pussy Riot convictions were upheld. Nadezha Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina will serve a two year sentence for hooliganism. The appeal of Yekaterina Samutsevich was granted and she was released.
The three members of the Pussy Riot punk art collective had previously been convicted on a charge of hooliganism, for a political protest staged in a Russian Orthodox Cathedral. The English PEN website has more detailed information and suggested actions to take in support of the two imprisoned women.
The Russia Legal Information Agency published a live-blog of the appeal hearing yesterday. One entry stands out:
13:11 [Prosecutor] Alexei Taratukhin is up. He negatively assessed the request for a special ruling to restrict President Putin from expressing sentiments about the trial. “Everyone has the freedoms of thought and speech. Should we force the highest official in the country to give up his opinion?”
So: The prosecutor in a trial seeking to suppress protest cites the value of free expression, but only when applied to the President. The hypocrisy here is breathtaking. Continue reading