One of the things I noticed when I traveled to Moscow back in 2010, was how devoid the punk scene seemed to be of politics.  The explanation I received? Russians are sick of politics and strife and are looking to be entertained and distracted, not reminded of it’s painful past (and present). I buy it. Just a cursory reading of history in Russia is one tragic tale after another.

The fact that Russians are able to smile and have a very good time after a history that includes people eating their own ass meat to stave off starvation during WW II in Leningrad (today’s St. Petersburg), to the gulags (forced labor camps) which imprisoned up to half the population according to some estimates.. is amazing. Well hell man, with a history like that I’d want to escape that reality too.

One of the many "Have Nots" in post communist Russia

The move to capitalism was ugly in Russia. Still is in many ways. The exploiters and the exploited is a familiar theme not unique to the former Soviet Union.

I’m no Russian expert. I read a few books, visited for 8 days, thought I was going to get arrested for shooting video interviews in front of Red Square by a gruff KGB agent (or whatever they call those guys these days) but in general, I spent my time as I usually spend my time when traveling; hanging with normal, everyday Russians and punks… and they didn’t seem too concerned about the state of Russia in terms of freedom of expression and human rights… so why should I?

And now Putin is back… some say with a vengeance. Is he friend or foe of the U.S.? I don’t know. But more importantly to me, is he friend or foe of human rights? Is he a democratically elected leader or just another greedy thug who can’t let go of his grip on power or be patriotic enough to lead his country to an era when the common person can actually have an impact on how their country is going to be run.

Pussy Riot - Photo by Igor Mukhin

And now this, an all female punk band called “Pussy Riot” formed after Putin announced he was coming back to power in Russia last year. They covered their faces presumably in an attempt  to hide their identity. From the sound of their music, perhaps it was to hide their identity from the common punk rock fan. Just to be 100% clear and honest, Iv’e definitely heard better and may or may not have heard worse punk bands in my time (and that is saying a lot).

But what they lack in musical talent, this quartet of fierce females seem to more than make up for in courage. They recently took on the  Orthodox Church which it seems, is aligned with Putin in a deal that gives the church riches and Putin more power. Once again religion has been manipulated and strayed far from it’s original message and no one seems to notice or care except these brave ladies who risked their freedom to perform inside of a synagogue to protest Putin’s reclamation of power and the Russian Orthodox Church’s role in it.

Predictably, they were arrested for hooliganism and are reportedly still in jail. If you see the comments on their you tube video’s page, you will see that most people fixate on the quality (or lack thereof) of Pussy Riot’s music rather than the deeper message or the courage they display by boldly and very publicly standing up to one of the world’s most  powerful leaders.

Typical. In the U.S. it seems we only want to be entertained (“here we are now.. entertain us” – Nirvana). We don’t care about other people’s problems who live so far away. Why should we? We’re never going to visit anyway right? Why leave the “greatest country on the planet”? as we are so often reminded by our media and politicians.

Bring on the Kardashians, Paris Hilton and other ubiquitous “me too” reality TV shows and what passes as our news programs to keep us occupied and satisfied with the status quo. With all due respect to OWS and the work they’ve done, we don’t REALLY know what protest is in the U.S. anymore. At least not the kind where you lay your life or freedom on the line (and when I say “we” I do mean “me” as well).

In that sense, our all volunteer armies of soldiers, whether you agree with their missions or not, are the last sense of heroes we can claim as a nation. The rest of us languish over problems like the latest iphone or ipad gadget, how to be famous or how can we scrape up the $ for that big ivy league school that can teach us investment banking so we can make loads and loads of money before we die materially rich and morally bankrupt.

On this very blog and in articles I’ve written on the subject, ill informed people have commented or written about how Cuba is such a great place, standing up to the great capitalist power of the United States. But thing is they’ve never visited and know nothing of what the Cuban people go through, yet they have some really strong opinions.

Yes, the U.S. has some very real problems, but if you want to see real problems, go to Cuba where people are not only hungry, they are not free to leave or even to complain about it or take part in our little facebook debates on the subject.

I’m no expert on Russia or human rights or freedom fighting or even punk music. But even I can tell that when idiots comment about the quality of the music from Pussy Riot, they are so missing the point just like the “Cuban Experts” who’ve never even been to Cuba. And it so bums me out.

I always thought most punks were smarter and better informed than that.  Then again, people are so brave when they can hide behind their keyboard and send little nasty messages and comments anonymously rather than stake out their beliefs in a real forum where the merits (or silliness) of their arguments could stand on their own.

Pussy Riot doesn’t hide behind a keyboard. Though they could have and they probably wouldn’t have been arrested had they done so. Then again, they probably didn’t want to be considered in the same class of keyboard cowards who anonymously comment or send private little emails so courageously from behind their computer screens spewing hate and intolerance for anyone who doesn’t happen to agree with their particular philosophy.

Hell, even Putin doesn’t do that.

4 thoughts on “Putin Arrest “Pussy Riot” for Hoolaginism in Moscow..

  1. Well, I wouldn’t say this was a good kind of rebelion, the words they said were absolutely senseless and now it’s a kind of fashion in Russia to hate Putin, people say they’re against him without any firm argumentation, just because everybody else says so, like in the end of the 90s it was fashionable to like him. The girls also offended many people among whom a lot of defenceless old men and women. I’m not a fan of the orhodox church, but for them it means too much and it’s like the last thing to rely on, at least spiritually. I’m afraid they didn’t deserve such kind of shock, taking into consideration the fact, that the majority of them I assure you is against Putin too. So it affected not the government, but ordinary people mostly, who got now added evidence that punk is not a sensible protest, but just some satan freak stuff, but didn’t get the message if it has ever taken place in this performance.

  2. Good Point Sophie, Nothing is ever as it seems. I hear there is more to this little protest than we are led to believe. Punk, like religion, can be manipulated just as easily it seems.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *