Pussy Riot: “Putin Will Teach You to Love the Homeland”

From the AP, via the Washington Post:

SOCHI, Russia — The IOC says it would be “wholly inappropriate” for the Russian punk group Pussy Riot to protest at Sochi Olympic sites.

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said Wednesday that “venues are not the places to have demonstrations.”…

This is from CNN yesterday:

The band members were in Sochi to protest what they said was the lack of freedom of speech and to record a song in English critical of Putin and called “Putin will teach you to love the homeland.”

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina had been imprisoned for nearly two years after being convicted of “hooliganism” and inciting religious hatred for performing a punk song slamming Putin in a Moscow cathedral and then posting a video of it online.

Since their release, just before the Olympic Games began, they have spoken to journalists about their time behind bars, describing the conditions as squalid and their treatment by guards as demeaning and inhumane.

Here’s Stephen Marche, in Esquire:

The very stupidity of the nature of the arrest is clearly strategic. Pussy Riot were arrested while they were minding their own business, and for no good reason. George Orwell noted in a letter about why he wrote 1984 that the point of the police state is not to demonstrate the state’s control over people’s bodies but their capacity to shape accepted reality. A police state needs to impose absurdity to show the depths of its power. Putin could easily have waited for Pussy Riot to stage a protest, to cause a disruption, and then arrested them on the basis of “hooliganism” as he did in 2012. Instead, he saw to it that they were arrested for the silliest of reasons, and made sure everybody knew how silly those reasons were…

But the timing of the arrest is really a gesture to the the rest of the world more than it is to people at home. If Putin simply wanted to rearrest Pussy Riot, he could have waited until fifteen minutes after the men’s hockey finals. But he chose to rearrest them in the middle of the Games. Putin’s “foreign policy” — such as it is — mainly acts as an embarrassment to Western values…

The worst part is, he has won. He has successfully mocked us. The International Olympic Committee, whose spokesmen have approved of the removal of gay activists, has been revealed for what it is: a collection of corrupt scum who pander in our highest ideals… Putin has offered an experiment for the whole world to witness on the nature of Western power: When you put their much vaunted belief in human rights up against a bunch of games, which one do they care about most?

Julia Ioffe, Russian emigre reporting for TNR, is a cynic:

Something tells me that heads are going to get bopped at the local police station. The local cops probably got the tip that Pussy Riot was in town and were told to make the problem go away. Panicking about messing up Putin’s Sochi party, they made the situation far worse, given the group’s brand recognition in the West and the number of foreign journalists swarming the place and bored of covering ski jumps.

What’s arguably even stupider is that they did the thing the Russian state is great at doing: they remade heroes out of Pussy Riot, just as Nadia and Masha were busy mucking up their own image, going on junkets to authoritarian countries and shamelessly asking for money around the world...

Ioffe updated with another post later in the day:

In fact, they had been in Sochi since Sunday, and had been arrested every day since their arrival. Yesterday, they were arrested at the nearby border with Abkhazia. “They were just seeing the local sights,” their lawyer Aleksander Popkov said. Which sounds about as convincing as the purse story. Still, after their sightseeing jaunt—a video shoot, more likely—they were held at the station until 3 a.m.

But the artists formerly known as Pussy Riot only let the world know of their arrest today during their morning stroll—in the rain, mind you—blasting it out over Twitter and predictably getting an instant crowd of journalists outside the black metal gate of a Sochi police station, waiting, shoving, cursing in the rain…

Then, the doors of the precinct opened and it wasn’t Nadia and Masha, but five girls in bright dresses and balaclavas, and, unmolested by police, they descended the station steps singing their song, which, depending on whether or not they were Pussy Riot, would make it Pussy Riot’s first public performance since their arrest two years ago…






64 replies
  1. 1
    beltane says:

    The Guardian’s headline for this story was something like “Cossacks whip P8ssy Riot Members in Sochi”. I initially thought it was a performance art type of protest but it was, alas, exactly as the headline said.

  2. 2
    Cacti says:

    Julia Ioffe also said that Putin had little control over Snowden’s assylum application, and got bent out of shape when Lawrence O’Donnell suggested on air that she was full of borscht.

    So, no surprise that she would try to minimize Russian police brutality with character assassination of those on the receiving end of Russian authorities’ big fluffy night stick wallopings of love.

  3. 3
    different-church-lady says:

    I guess they’re just lucky they don’t live in a genuine police state like the USA.

    OR: In Russia, bull whip you.

  4. 4

    They sent Cossacks in to rough everybody up. Actual Cossacks. I didn’t even know there were Cossacks any more, and I sure as hell didn’t know they still did this kind of uplifting work any longer. I thought that kind of thing went out with the czars.

  5. 5
    NotMax says:

    Activists in Russia assaulted, arrested by security forces.

    Next up: water is wet.

  6. 6
    beltane says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.): That’s the part that got my attention. They say that in Italy things must always change a little in order for them to stay the same. I guess that the rule in Russia is that they must constantly undergo cataclysmic upheaval in order for things to remain the same.

  7. 7
    Tommy says:

    @beltane: I don’t get what these women are doing. Performance art might work for me. I think that is way cool. These ladies have far larger balls then I have. You go girls. You go.

  8. 8
    kc says:

    @different-church-lady:

    I guess because Russia is really bad we just shouldn’t worry about abuses in the U.S.

    Thanks to you and Cacti for settling that.

  9. 9
    kc says:

    @kc:

    Reminds me of Republicans saying poor people in the U.S. should quit whining, because people in Haiti have it really bad.

  10. 10
    MikeJ says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.):

    They sent Cossacks in to rough everybody up. Actual Cossacks.

    That does it. I’m cancelling my account at the GOS.

  11. 11
    NotMax says:

    @Tommy

    Their motives may (or may not) be laudable, but their tactics are abysmal.

  12. 12
    beltane says:

    @Tommy: I thought the Cossacks were part of the protest. When people put the words “performance” and “Cossack” together it is usually in the context of Fiddler on the Roof or Dr. Zhivago.

  13. 13
    different-church-lady says:

    @kc: You worry all you want, and I’ll worry along with you.

    But when one starts using terms like “police state” and “stasi” and “death of freedom” and all other horseshit sundries, that’s when I get off the Magical Mystery Tour. And I think this makes a good example as to why.

    P.S. — I think you’re misreading Cacti’s comment.

  14. 14
    NotMax says:

    FYWP. Hasn’t your physician repeatedly told you to cut down on eating comments?

  15. 15
    Mike in NC says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.): The Cossacks and the Russian Orthodox Church were historical allies of the czars, thus they became enemies of the USSR after the 1917 revolution and didn’t have a comeback until the 1990s.

  16. 16
    Culture of Truth says:

    Instead, he saw to it that they were arrested for the silliest of reasons, and made sure everybody knew how silly those reasons were…

    Perhaps, but this is what effective protest is, as well. I admire these women. They are taking great risks and doing what protest / satire does — force those in power to demonstrate before the world their true fears and capacity for violence. Not to take anything away from those who get arrested for handcuffing themselves to an an Embassy or White House fence, but not all arrests are equal. Getting arrested for burning a racial identity card, sitting at a segregated lunch counter, or public bus, or what Pussy Riot are doing are arrests, exposing the unjustness of a law and the true nature of a state.

  17. 17
    Cassidy says:

    Well, no shit. In police states, people get arrested for having dissenting political opinions? Who’s have thunk it. See, I thought that in police states people wrote those dissenting opinions on blogs and then went about their business completely unmolested. Huh.

  18. 18
    Culture of Truth says:

    Comment awaiting moderation? Because of the word Pussy?

  19. 19
    Culture of Truth says:

    Heh. My comment is awaiting moderation because I used the word pu**y.

  20. 20
    Anne Laurie says:

    @beltane: Actual no-shite Cossacks, by request of Putin his own self:

    (CNN) — In their tall, fur hats and embellished traditional jackets, hundreds of Cossacks are patrolling the streets of Sochi, Russia, as the 2014 Winter Olympic Games approach…

    But within their high hats is hidden a dark history.

    Known for rebelling against Russia’s feudal system, the Cossack state allied itself with Russia’s tsars to help create the monolithic Russian Empire. These warrior horsemen helped bring Russian rule to vast parts of the country, most notably Siberia.

    During the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, the Cossacks fought for the Russian crown in regional wars against the Russian people, garnering a reputation as the tsars’ henchmen. Acting on behalf of the Russian Empire, the Cossacks carried out pogroms, or massacres of the Jews, in 19th century Russia…

    Since the fall of the Soviet Union in the late 20th century, there has been a revival of Cossack culture and pride in Russia and the former Soviet states. Russia has been turning to the Cossacks to help bolster security, even before Sochi was named as the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

    Last year, the governor of Russia’s Krasnodar region — where Sochi is located — hired about 1,000 Cossack patrolman to rein in the surge of illegal immigrants, mostly Muslim, according to the New York Times.

    “What you cannot do, a Cossack can,” Krasnodar Gov. Aleksandr Tkachev explained to local police…

    Putin is reviving the historical pride of the Russian empire. Can’t have a proper empire without a band of uniformed enforcers, preferably enforcers drunk on their own “patriotic history”.

  21. 21
    NotMax says:

    @Mike in NC

    A step-grandfather punctured his own eardrum to escape being dragooned by the Cossacks pre-revolution.

    (Trying the comment FYWP ate again about the singing group) –

    Their motives may be commendable, but their tactics are abysmal.

  22. 22
    Lavocat says:

    A Cossack. With a bull whip. Assaulting a woman. In public. In a country hosting the Olympics. To boost its worldwide image.

    Reality is far better than any drug I can ever imagine.

    I mean, seriously, you just can’t make this shit up.

  23. 23
    Steve Crickmore says:

    The Cossacks have been used since last year as an auxiliary police force to patrol the streets in the Krasnodar province, which includes the Winter Olympic host city. Patrol leader Igor Gulichev compared his forces to the Texas Rangers, an elite law-enforcement body that has power throughout that state.

    Cossacks trace their history in Russia back to the 15th century. Serving in the tsarist cavalry, they spearheaded imperial Russia's expansion and were often used as border guards. Under communism, they virtually disappeared, but have since resurfaced, particularly in the south.

  24. 24
    Culture of Truth says:

    Ok, I’m going to re-post…

    Instead, he saw to it that they were arrested for the silliest of reasons, and made sure everybody knew how silly those reasons were…

    Perhaps, but this is what effective protest is, as well. I admire these women. They are taking great risks and doing what protest / satire does — force those in power to demonstrate before the world their true fears and capacity for violence. Not to take anything away from those who get arrested for handcuffing themselves to an an Embassy or White House fence, but not all arrests are equal. Getting arrested for burning a racial identity card, sitting at a segregated lunch counter, or public bus, or what P***y Riot are doing are arrests, exposing the unjustness of a law and the true nature of a state.

  25. 25
    Tommy says:

    I will just say this. In 1991 I was the President of a Grad school association at a major college. We had a group of Russians come to see us. I was supposed to host them. Journalist. Teach them about a free press. I quickly bonded with a dude, a sub commander. Me a military brat. Well I told him I never wanted to kill him and he said the same. It was one of those telling moments in my life …

  26. 26
    Lavocat says:

    I have to seriously wonder if this was staged.

    I mean, c’mon, this was so surreal that I have my doubts about its authenticity.

  27. 27
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    What’s next? Restaging the oprichnina?

  28. 28
    Cermet says:

    To say these young ladies are brave is an understatement; pity we lack anyone at all as brave now-a-days even as the police and NSA become more dangerous than any Islamic group ever dreamed. The 0.001% don’t just own the country and government besides their lap dogs in the press but now even the balls of most the Amerikan people. The road is getting darker and fewer people than ever see this for the death spiral it is becoming for this country’s freedoms. Russian never had any traditions to uphold yet some brave soul’s fight those bastards – the bastards here don’t even have the self awareness to even see what a monster they are feeding and were to hell its self we are heading..

  29. 29
    Anne Laurie says:

    @different-church-lady: So that’s the new NSA slogan? “At least we don’t use bullwhips… in public… just yet”?

    The t-shirt logo is gonna take some work, but I’m sure you can get a cost-plus grant.

  30. 30
    NotMax says:

    @Omnes Omnibus

    St. Petersburg → Petrograd → Leningrad → St. Petersburg → Putingrad.

  31. 31
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Marginally related, but since the situation in Ukraine was being discussed at some length this morning, I highly recommend that before anyone comment further on that, they take the time to read this excellent (albeit approaching tl;dr territory) article by Timothy Snyder. http://www.nybooks.com/article.....d-ukraine/

  32. 32
    Cassidy says:

    @Anne Laurie: Not being snarky, but are you even remotely familiar with what the NSA does? Chuck was a tv show, not a documentary. I mean, the CIA has some people who’d whip you, but the NSA really doesn’t have those kind of personnel.

  33. 33
    ToivoS says:

    I have to admit that when pussy riot first burst onto the scene I found them appealing at least to that anarchist side of my nature. Once they became symbols of anti-Russian propaganda in the Western media my enthusiasm dropped. But when Samantha Powers shows up in public endorsing them it was clear what they are. They are tools and it is mistake to interpret their antics representing free spirit.

  34. 34
    NotMax says:

    @Anne Laurie

    Recall the proposed uniforms for ‘Homeland Security forces’ under the last administration?

    Barely discernible from SS uniforms, the major difference being the fabric.

    Pictures may still lurk in corners of the ‘net, but have by and large been scrubbed.

  35. 35
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Anne Laurie: Oh, come on.

  36. 36
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Lavocat:

    I have to seriously wonder if this was staged.

    Only in the sense that the Bloody Sunday attacks were “staged”. The women of Pussy Riot knew that Putin had brought in Cossacks to keep order in Sochi; they knew how those Cossacks would interpret their ‘civic responsiblities’ when faced with a handful of women in bright clothing attempting to sing dangerous, subversive, anti-patriotic anthems… like the one titled “Putin Will Teach You to Love the Homeland”.

    Or as we say in English, the beatings will continue until morale improves!

  37. 37
    beltane says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Well, the Ukrainians are performing an updated version of the Khmelnytsky Uprising so why not.

  38. 38
    MikeJ says:

    @Anne Laurie:So your contention is that the dusky usurper has sekreet bullwhip squads?

  39. 39
    different-church-lady says:

    @Anne Laurie: Pssst… check the comment immediately above yours. It will give you a better indication of where I intended my petard to land.

    I mean, hell, I tied the two together in sarcasm. I didn’t realize irony was going to choke on a chicken bone right here at the table.

  40. 40
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yah, I shouldn’t let that particular apologist’s perpetual whinging get under my skin, but I never claimed to be a saint…

  41. 41
    different-church-lady says:

    @Cassidy:

    I mean, the CIA has some people who’d whip you, but the NSA really doesn’t have those kind of personnel.

    Here we leave that kind of thing to campus police.

  42. 42
    Anne Laurie says:

    @MikeJ: If I had a contention, it would be that President Obama doesn’t seem to have much control over the Permanent Security State. Nice derailing effort, though! Screw those dirty foreigners, it’s all about scoring points in the hometown game!

  43. 43
    Cassidy says:

    @different-church-lady: Don’t forget transit police.

  44. 44
    Chyron HR says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    The NSA is bullwhipping people! Just wait and see!

    We’ve secretly replaced all the frontpagers with McLaren. Let’s see if anyone notices.

  45. 45
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Cassidy: And Tony Bologna, NYPD hero:

    In “our” defense, Bologna got disciplined… eventually.

  46. 46
    Sasha says:

    @Lavocat:

    It was staged in exactly the same way that civil rights protesters being firehosed by Bull Conner was staged.

  47. 47
    ToivoS says:

    20 laurie quotes: Acting on behalf of the Russian Empire, the Cossacks carried out pogroms, or massacres of the Jews, in 19th century Russia

    Perhaps the Cossacks as did many residents of South Russia — Poles, Ukrainians and Rumanians — engaged in pogroms, the Cossacks did not do so as agents of the Russian Empire. In fact, the czar, to the extent that he paid any attention to the pogroms, discouraged pogroms and used his Cossack police to stop them.

  48. 48
    trollhattan says:

    @Lavocat:

    My thoughts, to a “T.”

    “We’ll stop whipping our women [in public] if you let us into the EU and buy our gas? Dealski?”

    Fuckers.

    To DougJify my comment: Hear him whip the women, just around midnight.

  49. 49
    Matt McIrvin says:

    Good old hooliganism. The classics never die!

  50. 50
    AxelFoley says:

    @Chyron HR:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  51. 51
    Cacti says:

    @kc:

    I guess because Russia is really bad we just shouldn’t worry about abuses in the U.S.

    And of course, as predictable as the sun rising in the east, we can always count on a member of the flying monkey brigade to answer a story about Russian human rights abuses with “but blah blah blah, United States” no matter how tortured or tangential it is to the topic at hand.

  52. 52
    superfly says:

    @ToivoS:

    Jesus, you sound like a hipster discussing your favorite local indie band that happened to make it big.

  53. 53
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    If Putin could get away with naming himself Tsar, he’d do it.

  54. 54
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    The Checka lives!

  55. 55
    SectarianSofa says:

    @superfly: yes!

  56. 56
    Chris says:

    @Mike in NC:

    The Cossacks and the Russian Orthodox Church were historical allies of the czars, thus they became enemies of the USSR after the 1917 revolution and didn’t have a comeback until the 1990s.

    What always throws me about Russian society is which of its big shots are a continuation of the USSR’s (Putin and his KGB posse seem to be the ultimate example), versus which ones are former Undesirables who could only resurface after 1991, or new elites who emerged after that.

    Thanks for the history lesson, you and everyone else who weighed in.

  57. 57
    Chris says:

    @Cassidy:

    I mean, the CIA has some people who’d whip you

    I’m not even sure about that. Funny thing is that in all the places where you read about past CIA operations, their personnel seem to like keeping their hands clean. They were up to their eyeballs in chasing Che Guevara, but they didn’t kill him, they left that to the Bolivian Army. They were up to their eyeballs in chasing Bin Laden, but they didn’t kill him, they called in the SEALs. Same with pretty much all the other physical jobs I can think of. CIA personnel get involved in covert action all the time, but it seems like whenever there’s bruising or killing to be done, they leave it to others – U.S. military forces, local insurgents or criminals, or even the local police/military if it’s a friendly country.

    /end tangent.

  58. 58
    xenos says:

    @Chris: This is why I was so surprised at the news that the CIA was chartering airplanes to fly out over the Atlantic, out of US jurisdiction, to torture/interrogate prisoners on the plane and still in their custody as the plane circled around, and then flying back into the US when running low on fuel. As bad as the CIA could be in the past this seemed a giant step forward in their agressiveness that was not in their culture.

  59. 59
    Chris says:

    @xenos:

    ??????????????

    I admit, that one slipped right by me.

    What I’d heard was that they were simply doing the rendition thing, sending the terrorists to places like Uzbekistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia or what-have-you, and letting them do all the sweating – it’s doing these countries a favor since they tend to want them at least as bad as we do, and in exchange they share the info. That seemed perfectly in keeping with the CIA’s MO.

    Hadn’t heard anything about what you’re describing.

    (Heard of Guantanamo, of course, and similar measures in places like Abu Ghraib or Bagram, but again, that’s the military doing the dirty work, not CIA).

  60. 60
    ToivoS says:

    @superfly: have no idea what you are referring to.

  61. 61
    Cassidy says:

    @Chris: They don’t have Bourne super spies, but their SO section is made up of former SOF people. They work closely with JSOC.

  62. 62
    Cacti says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Yah, I shouldn’t let that particular apologist’s perpetual whinging get under my skin, but I never claimed to be a saint…

    Did Obama send the NSA to bullwhip your tomato plants?

  63. 63
    Paul in KY says:

    @beltane: What you yourself cannot do, a Cossack can…

    Old Russian saying.

  64. 64
    Chris says:

    @Cassidy:

    Yeah, but what do they actually do? Considering that virtually every time we know of there’s been dirty work to do and the CIA involved in it, they’ve left that work to somebody else… I’m sure the paramilitaries aren’t sitting around twiddling their thumbs, but it’s kind of impressive that we still have no idea about them, considering how much else has leaked out about our intelligence and security state’s operations. (Or maybe, like the interrogations, it’s out there and I just never came across it).

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