Mercy and Staged Church Riots in Russia


I am inclined to get in on the “Pussy Riot” debate happening over in the land of the Bear.

And first you’ll have to forgive me for getting involved in such a cesspool of a story. Sorry for my language too, but nothing sells like a hot riot in the springtime. No other way around it — this riotous clamor is the handle of a Russian all-girl punk band that just tried to defile the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, the same Cathedral the Bolsheviks knocked down in 1932 and made into a leaky swimming pool.

During all the recent unrest in Russia, a particularly loud fringe voice has been emanating from this punk band, which hit the apex of its publicity recently when it performed its ardently anti-Putin songs at the Kremlin illegally. Then, for an encore, brushed inside the Cathedral nearby, ceremonial epicenter of the Russian Orthodox Church, frequently involving cameos by politicians like Putin and top clerics like Patriarch Kirill. P. Riot performed a “punk moleben” at Christ the Savior against the Church, protesting what it felt were too many connections between Putin and the Church. The song implored the Mother of God to drive Putin out of power and had a refrain that faintly resembled Russian sacred music but mostly sounded like a really bad high-school glam punk outfit that couldn’t quite get its guitars tuned. As if to make matters worse, the band played right in front of the altar and filmed a video of the slight.

P. Riot is part of the neo-feminist movement in the former Russian S.S.R., that is very much unlike the feminists of the West. For one thing, the stakes are a bit higher because the authorities there play hardball.

People on hand tried to remove them and the band somehow escape unmolested. It was extremely sacreligious. Later, two girls in the band got busted and are now in the slammer awaiting charges. If they get convicted of hooliganism, they could get 7 years in prison. (I wouldn’t imagine Russian prison is a very fun place either.) Putin apologized to the public because of the incident. Many Church officials have gone on record pleading with the authorities not to send the girls to jail but social condemnation would be sufficient (applause, please).

I have read several accounts of this incident and of the arrests. Most telling, as always, are the comments on the message boards. A few want the girls burned at the stake, or worse. But even more want the girls treated mercifully. And, as another report showed recently, a great many Russian Orthodox believers side with the latter, demonstrating for the girls to be let out of jail. Sure, their provocation was vile, but unworthy of seeing the state commit a more grievous sin, that of behaving uncharitably and punishing them unmercifully.

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About Pete Mladineo


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