4 Reasons To Keep Fighting to Free Pussy Riot (Slideshow)

Pussy Riot members Maria AlyokhinaYekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova have been jailed for two years and two other members of the band have reportedly fled Russia. Four reasons to keep fighting to free Alyokhina, Samutsevich and Tolokonnikova and to support the opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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1. Crackdown on the Opposition Continues

Earlier this week, opposition activist Taisiya Osipova was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of heroin possession. Osipova — who has a young daughter and suffers from diabetes — has said that the drugs were planted in her home in retaliation for her refusal to testify against her husband, Sergei Fomchenkov, a leader of the Other Russia movement.

Plenty of other efforts are underway to intimidate members of the Russian opposition. Maria Baronova is one of twelve activists charged after an anti-Putin protest held on May 6, the eve of Putin’s inauguration. Officers broke down her door and seized family photos, four laptops, a bunch of books, several white ribbons (a symbol of Russia’s protest movement), a pin with a pink triangle and an ultrasound when she was pregnant six years ago with her son.

As the Guardian quotes Baronova: “Do you think my child was planning unrest?”

 

Photo by Person Behind the Scenes via Flickr.

Leningrad

2. Russia Has Joined the WTO

After 18 years of negotiating, Russia has gained admission to the 153-member World Trade Organization. Russia is the last of the Group of 20 major economies to join (China joined in 2001) and the biggest economy by far.

With trade barriers removed, Russia and other member nations should be able to increase trade among themselves. Some have predicted that Russia, which is currently Europe’s largest export market, could gain tens of billions of dollars each year as a result.

But one barrier remains in the form of the U.S., where legislation dating back to the Cold War prevents favorable trading relations with Russia. Under the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the Trade Act of 1974, bilateral trade policy is tied to human rights; the legislation blocks normal trade relations to pressure Russia to allow Jewish emigration. Currently, Congress must certify every year that Russia allows emigration.

Led by oil imports, Russia was the 14th largest supplier of goods imports. The US Chamber of Commerce and other businesses have been pushing to scrap the amendment.

After the Pussy Riot trial, the Obama administration said the three women’s sentences were “disproportionate.” But this was tempered criticism. Lifting the Jackson-Vanik amendment would be a sign that the U.S. is indeed putting human rights second to commerce.

 

Photo of St. Petersburg port and oil tanks by J.Elliott via Flickr.

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3. The Galley Slave Lives in Luxury

Russian opposition leaders have  issued a report about the excessively luxurious lifestyle that Putin lives in. Sarcastically entitled “The Life of a Galley Slave” — after a 2008 quote by Putin that “All these eight years I toiled like a galley slave, from morning until evening” — the report describes a fulsome increase in “presidential perks” since Putin first took office twelve years ago:

Among the 20 residences available to the Russian president are Constantine Palace, a Czarist-era estate on the Gulf of Finland restored at the cost of tens of millions of dollars, a ski lodge in the Caucasus Mountains and a Gothic revival palace in the Moscow region. The president also has at his disposal 15 helicopters, 4 spacious yachts and 43 aircraft, including the main presidential jet, an Ilyushin whose interior is furnished with gold inlay by artisans from the city of Sergiyev Posad, an Airbus and a Dassault Falcon. The 43 aircraft alone are worth an estimated $1 billion, the report says.

This, the authors note, “in a country where many people hardly make ends meet.”

Concludes the report: “His lifestyle can be compared to that of a Persian Gulf monarch or a flamboyant oligarch.”

 

Photo of Putin (with watch) by Jedimentat44 via Flickr.

Pussy Riot - Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, painted portrait IMG_2414

4. Efforts to Discredit and Slander Pussy Riot Continue Apace

Orthodox activists have protested those supporting Pussy Riot; some Ukrainians are suing the band on the grounds that their “punk prayer” in Moscow’s Christ the Savior cathedral caused them “psychological distress.”

Some conspiracy theorists have gone so far as to say that Pussy Riot could be a “Kremlin plot meant to split the anti-Putin movement,” says Bloomberg. Alexei Plutser-Sarno, a member of the St. Petersburg-based protest-art group Voina, wrote on his blog that jailed Pussy Riot member Tolokonnikova had left the group after her husband, Pyotr Verzilov, was removed from it, for acting as a police informant.

This week, the words “Free Pussy Riot” were found scrawled above the bodies of two murdered women in the city of Kazan in Russia. A Russian Orthodox Church official blames supporters of the group: “This blood is on the conscience of so-called community that has supported the participants in the act in Christ the Savior cathedral, because as a result people with unstable psyches have received carte-blanche,” said Dimitry Smirnov, head of the church department for relations with the armed forces and law enforcement agencies.

But a spokesman for the regional Investigative Committee branch in Kazan said he doubted a Pussy Riot supporter had committed the crime, saying that it “was a regular robbery, a regular robbery and some degenerate wrote that. It’s doubtful that some [Pussy Riot] supporter wrote that.”

Nikolai Polozov, a lawyer for Pussy Riot, described the words as a “either a monstrous provocation or the act of a sick maniac.”

Millions around the world know who Pussy Riot is and how the women in a feminist punk band stood up to authoritarian rule and orthodox. It’s a message that needs to be heard over and above the criticism and the calumny — and it’s why we need to keep fighting to free Pussy Riot.

Related Care2 Coverage

Russian Factory Owners Will Not be Charged for Inhumane Treatment

Orthodox Activists Crash Pussy Riot Play in Moscow

Pussy Riot Member: “Our Verdict Shows Just How Scared Putin’s Regime Is”

 

Photo by Abode of Chaos via Flickr.

 

Photo by Abode of Chaos

74 comments

L. C.
Ms. L. C.3 years ago

This FIGHT TO FREE Pussy Riot, Is FAR FROM OVER. WE WILL FIGHT FOR THEM, UNTIL THEY ARE FREED!

Scott haakon
Scott haakon3 years ago

Where is the reason we should support this band? What do they really stand for? The media does not like Putin,ok ; so what? Do we know enough? I do not think so.

No Politics H.
Past Member 3 years ago

Tsarist Russia has returned via Putin, Christianity has returned via the Eastern Orthodox church and with it the demonizing of individuals. How awful this is. Let's hope public international outcry will free the group and bring freedom to the Russian people.

Duane B.
.3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Seda A.
Seda A.3 years ago

thanks

caylin selene
caylin selene3 years ago

I am so frustrated this web page is not easy to reply to messages or anything else. except you have made it easy to vote thank you

BUSY NO FW Rumbak
ANA MARIJA R.3 years ago

Thanks for the post.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola3 years ago

Thanks so much for this info.

devon leonard
Devon Leonard3 years ago

I'm very thankful that there are so many people from all over the world who are standing together for "Pussy Riot"...that they will not be forgotten. I have their photo close at hand to remember them and send protection and good energy and prayers to them often.... I will keep this up till I hear they are home again.

Lauren Graham
Lauren Goldman3 years ago

Ah, good old Stalinist Russia. Is Putin a closet Republican, what with stealing elections and all?