By Michael Baker
Russian performance-art punk rockers Pussy Riot are in big trouble. The all female band has been sentenced to two years in prison for “hooliganism” after an impromptu performance that was critical of Vladimir Putin in one of Russia’s most prominent Catholic Cathedrals. By all accounts, Pussy Riot probably are hooligans in the traditional sense, but this is ridiculous.
From a human rights perspective, this is a pretty big deal. Since the Cold War, Russia’s record on civil liberties has been relatively fair, if not exemplary. But this case is garnering international attention, and it’s reminding much of the world that Putin’s regime is not as benign as it might seem. That’s not to say that Russia is a threat to the Free World at this point, it’s simply to say that they’re a human rights violator, and still worthy of condemnation.
As for Pussy Riot, something tells me they’ll be OK. Sure, they’ll have to do their time, and that will be no picnic. But this story has catapulted them to international fame not only as musicians, but as symbols of free speech and general badassness. Nothing’s more punk than going to prison for being too punk. One thing’s for sure, Pussy Riot are no pussies.
But let’s look on the bright side: we got hear tons of respected journalists say “Pussy Riot.”