Pussy Riots

The three members of the Russian all-female punk band known as the “Pussy Riot” have been sentenced to two years in prison for their anti-Putin demonstration. This news is coming in the same week that Russia declared all gay pride demonstrations in the country outlawed for a century. It has been made very clear to all outside observers that Russia that the government is in no less than all out warfare against the liberal understanding of free speech.

The women were said to be driven by “religious hatred”, after taking over Christ the Savior Cathedral and performing a “punk prayer”, calling on the Virgin Mary to save Russia from Vladimir Putin. Indeed, Russian Christian Orthodoxy  has long been held as a sacred value in the country, but even more important in this case is the increasing authoritarianism which has come to dominate Russian political culture since Putin’s re-ascendency to the presidency. Despite the widespread protest both within the country and from the international community, the women have not been freed and will begin serving their two year sentence.

Jailing of those who threaten the government’s interests or position is not uncommon in post-Soviet Russia, as evidenced by the imprisonment of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a prominent Putin opponent and one of the richest men in Russia, two years ago. Putin, a former KGB agent himself, has proven himself to not be above resorting to full use of the state apparatus to quell any sort of dissent. While I certainly would not go as far as Mitt Romney and call Russia our “number one geostrategic enemy”, any one watching these obviously anti-liberal events should be concerned about the direction the country is headed in.

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