Topic: Punk Group Pussy Riot Case
MOSCOW, August 16 (Dan Peleschuk, RIA Novosti)
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As a Moscow court prepares to decide the fate of punk group Pussy Riot, the Kremlin is faced with a dilemma which could either further embolden the ballooning liberal opposition or alienate the conservative faithful who form the cornerstone of President Vladimir Putin’s support base.
And the decision, experts say, is a difficult one for the authorities to make – no matter the outcome.
If the women are released, it sends a signal to critics that open protest will now be tolerated, and the Kremlin has grown hesitant to continue its crackdown on dissent, analysts predict. If they are jailed, however, it may only intensify the simmering public discontent with the government.
“Both options are not good,” said Masha Lipman, a society expert at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “We’re dealing here with a case of miscalculation – or actually, a failure to calculate.”
Since the end of the trial last week, in which prosecutors asked the court for a three-year prison sentence for the three women – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30 – speculation over their fate has only grown. They have already spent five months in custody, and two of the women have small children with whom they have been deprived of contact since their incarceration.
When the court delayed the verdict, now expected to be delivered August 17, it was perceived as a move by the authorities to buy time and explore the options. Yet news of the group’s prosecution – and of the unruly trial itself – has reached international proportions and has raised the stakes for the authorities even higher.
And as the verdict is handed down, observers will be watching closely to see just how far the authorities will go to punish dissent during President Vladimir Putin’s third term.
Debate has raged in recent weeks over how – or even whether – to punish the women for their brief “punk prayer” in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in February. The case has come to represent the greater clash between conservatism and liberalism in Russia, dividing almost evenly people who support Pussy Riot and criticize the authorities, and those who have called for a swift punishment and who support the Putin regime.
“The Russian elite and society are split on the issue, and indeed a decision in one or another direction would alienate the other side,” said Alexander Rahr, a Berlin-based independent Russia analyst.
According to a July poll by the Levada Center, about 58 percent of Russians – both believers and non-believers – believe a jail term for the group would be too excessive, while 33 percent say they would prefer something akin to a suspended sentence. The center polled 1,600 respondents nationwide, and the margin of error is 3.4 percent.
Rahr added that the significance of the case – second only, perhaps, to that of jailed former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky – will likely affect the authorities’ handling of the case, and that they may hand down a three-year suspended sentence as a symbolic gesture of compromise.
The flood of support from foreign governments, dignitaries and celebrities has piled up in recent weeks, ranging from the U.S. State Department to pop icon Madonna and actor Danny DeVito. Spontaneous demonstrations have cropped up across Western capitals, including even public readings of the women’s closing statements by artists and intellectuals.
“They thought that this would be a locally controlled affair, but now this trial has become internationalized, Rahr said. “The whole world is talking about this, and that fact has to be taken into account. Russia is risking a heavy image blow if it puts these three singers into prison for three years.”
While on a visit to London August 2, which coincided with an open letter published in The Times from a variety of British musicians calling for the group’s release, Putin hinted the women should receive a lighter punishment than the original seven-year sentence proposed.
“I do not think they should be judged too harshly for that,” he told reporters. “I hope they will make certain conclusions themselves. Nevertheless, it is up to the court to make the final ruling.”
Experts say Putin’s comment, though vague, was a direct signal aimed at those responsible for deciding the women’s fate – comparable to his statement on the eve of Khodorkovsky’s second prison sentence, when he remarked that “a thief should sit in jail.”
According to Lipman, the unexpected delay in the verdict points to the authorities’ uncertainty about how to rule the case, noting that while it’s nearly impossible to know who will make the final call, the “decision will be extralegal.”
“There’s no doubt that this decision will be taken beyond the walls of the courthouse,” she said.
Other experts say the focus of the prosecution team has shifted from producing favorable results for the Kremlin to conducting damage control in a case that has attracted high-profile support for months.
“This issue has a great deal of resonance, and any mistake can cost the judge and the prosecution team their careers,” said Pavel Salin, an analyst at the Center for Political Assessments. “That’s why there’s very likely a discussion going on among those who are involved in the process about the most graceful way out of the situation.”
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- lmAgain we see the Western cronies inside Russia in which journalist are on their pay roll.13:18, 16/08/2012The above is total rubbish and only a ploy to get the authorities to let these girls free.
“If one cannot do the time don’t do the crime”
- moistWhats the problem?13:22, 16/08/2012As their western support group of out-dated "artists" and new born "punk rockers" of €Urocrats and free-masons in the Brussels politburo suggest, they are foreign agents and should be treated as such. There are also some mental-disorder issues to discuss here, stuffing each other´s genitals with frozen chicken and performing satanic rituals to offend ordinary Russians in their most sacred church, is not only depraved but sick to the very bone..
- lmThe West will use any low down tricks to advance there ultimate goal of bringing down Russia with the help of their cronies inside Russia.13:49, 16/08/2012Again we see the workings of the West long arm buying people who would do anything even sell their own mother for the US dollar.
These girls need to be jail as everyone can see on their faces they don’t give a shit about the law in Russia only there US cronies who is trying the to influence the outcome of trail. There are many women in jails around the world that has children and in prison, why are the traitors making such a fuss?
I have long suspected that some journalist, columnist and so called bloggers are on the West pay list thru NGO’s.
- BabeoufaGet a grip15:01, 16/08/2012In the 1960's Western politicians got themselves on the wrong side of youth culture. And at one stage the Rolling Stones almost ended up in jail. A sentence of 'time served' would now be the optimum outcome for the authorities in Russia given their disastrous handling of the case. Nobody apparently noticed that it contained an explosive mixture of politics and rock and roll. Having seen a Pussy Riot performance on the net it is clear their act needs a lot of work. And it is generous in the extreme for the Russian government to provide free world wide publicity for this particular performance.
- moistIt perhaps need a lot of work but...18:13, 16/08/2012...the intention is obviously not to perform some form of "artistry" but as their desperate and sick previous attempts suggest, to get attention for Soros, NED and their other western backers. As soon as these useful idiots have fulfilled their purpose, which is to discredit the Russian government and President Putin in particular, the new born "punk rockers" in the €U and Washington political regimes will move on to other nasty ways to interfere in Russian politics.
Name ONE REAL punk band in the 70`s-80`s west that desecrated a Church, Synagogue or Mosque in the same fashion and who also attracted fans among the whole political establishment? I mean once you´v done THAT you are no longer a "punk band" but a political tool.If you fail to see the obvious you really need to get a grip...
- xama226Novosti has problems with its editors06:20, 17/08/2012Are the editors of Novosti aware that:
Peleschuk is an american of ukrainian origin producing antirussian narratives on the basis of no arguments based on facts?
His narrative is a collage of views of various individuals who think that russia should be a western colony. This is the case of Rahr the president of the german Marshal fund
(a pro nato shop). Masha Goldman writes antirusian articles in
the Washington Post. She has racist views conserning the people of Russia who are not Jewish.
If you love Yulia Latynina you will like Goldman.
The russian liberals are in fact a marginal group. The russian population is in fact to the left of Putin.
Who is financing the defense of the Pussy Riots?
I found out that the funds come from Alex Farb who is a horse in the Stable of Berezovski!! Amusing if you also know that Farb is a PR person.
(among other jobs he was in change of the media campaign in Britain during the Litvinenenko story.
- Wolfgang9Why not13:20, 20/08/2012just send them out of the country, e.g. to their beloved USA? It will be very obvious how fast they will be forgotten in the West!
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