Russia | Justice Through Music - Part 2

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Free Pussy Riot Rallies Worldwide – Court Hands Down Guilty Verdict and 2-year sentences

AUG 17, 2012 – Even though there were worldwide protests calling for the release of Pussy Riot, such as the Russian Embassy here in DC that JTMP attended (see pic to right, and video coming soon), the Russian court handed down a guilty verdict and 2 year prison sentences to the 3 women activist musicians from the punk activist band Pussy Riot. The charge was "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred", and it has caused an uproar from people appalled by the decision. The White House, Sting, Sir Paul McCartney, and many, many people have come out and spoken against this verdict and harsh sentence.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the Obama administration is "disappointed with the Pussy Riot verdict. While we understand the group's behavior was offensive for some, we have concerns about the way these young women were treated by the Russian judicial system."

Sting on Amnesty International's website said, "Dissent is a legitimate and essential right in any democracy and modern politicians must accept this fact with tolerance. A sense of proportion – and a sense of humour – is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness."

Everyone is hoping for Putin to step in and reverse these charges and free these women, which are even putting a strain on Russian-European relations. To sign the petition to Free Pussy Riot, go to Amnesty International's petition here.This leads us to why this is all really happening: The powerful Russian Orthodox Church is behind the pressure to come down hard on these 3 women for their free speech action. So, JTMP believes we shouldn't be protesting in front of the Russian Embassy, but at the Russian Orthodox Church, where the blame lies for this injustice that is happening. We call for boycott and protest of the Russian Orthodox Church until these women are freed and this travesty of justice is reversed. Starting with the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Washington, DC. It is located at 4001 17th Street NW.

More info and video on all of this coming soon, so check back daily!

British Musicians Publish Letter in UK Times Calling for Release of Pussy Riot in Russia

August 2, 2012 – 4 well-known British musicians have published a letter to The Times in the UK calling for the release of the punk rock band members of Pussy Riot in Russia; among those are Pete Townshend, Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys, Jarvis Cocker of the Pulp, and Martha Wainwright. They state in the letter they feel the free speech action at the cathedral was at worst a "breach of the peace", and also say, "Dissent is a right in any democracy and it is entirely disproportionate that they face seven years in jail for what we consider a preposterous charge of 'hooliganism motivated by religious hatred'." Many are also now concerned with the treatment of the women who have been held in detention during trial, and there are reports of lack of food, physical abuse, and other mistreatment by the authorities. Read more on WashPo here.  (photo credit: Ian McLagan/Wiki)

Young, Progressive Russians Deciding to Stay in Russia Instead of Fleeing

July 31, 2012 – Young, progressive Russians, who used to flee to other countries to get away from the brutal oppression of free speech and dissent by the government, are now deciding to stay and try and change things at home. Most notably is the women punk musician-activist band Pussy Riot that is challenging free speech restrictions by doing "actions". 3 members of the band were arrested in February of 2012 and are now on trial for singing an anti-Putin song at the cathedral of the powerful Russian Orthodox Church. They face charges of "hooliganism" and face up to 7 years in prison. Even their spouses are being attacked, such as the husband of one of the women arrested, Pyotr Verzilov, who had a Canadian passport when he was attending school in Toronto years ago and the Russian government flashed an image of his passport on TV and called it evidence that he and his wife are trying to "tear Russia apart". Read more on WashPo here, and also there is a good article about the trial on NBCNews.com here.

They are all part of a movement called "Voina", a group consisting of artists, musicians and others that stage provocative actions deliberately meant to test the boundaries of their freedoms and liberties, and challenge the government's authority. They call this "polical protest art"; and at least 20 criminal investigations have been launched against the group and its members. The government of Russia says the Art group VOINA, "is a left-wing radical anarchist collective whose central goal is to carry out PR actions directed against the authorities…" Check out the org's website and read about the many political prisoners in Russia consisting of journalists, artists and even regular activists trying to bring about progressive change in Russia on their website: http://en.free-voina.org/.

The trial has divided old Russia against the youth, and even spilled over to America as protesters held a rally in front of the Russian embassy here in Washington, DC on July 28, 2012 to protest what they see as government overreach and oppression of free speech. NME.com reports that many musicians have spoken out against the detention and prosecution of the women, such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Franz Ferdinand. Check back because JTMP will be posting on this issue regularly, and will also have a video out soon. (photo credits: CC\Wiki)

Activist Girl Punk Band “Pussy Riot” on Trial in Russia

July 21, 2012 – The all-girl activist punk band "Pussy Riot" from Russia is on trial in Moscow for a political free speech action/stunt they pulled recently at the cathedral of the largest Russian Orthodox Church, and the trial has divided the country over how far free speech should go and how far the state should limit free speech, and have ran into the powerful Russian Orthodox Church. The women, who often perform in public scantily clad to attract attention to their message, have battled Vladimir Putin over the years because they see his policies as anti-women and authoritarian that limits free speech.

In February of 2012 the 5 women briefly "took over" the altar at Christ the Saviour Cathedral and chanted, "Mother Mary, Drive Putin away!", and did a high-kicking cancan-style dance. They were arrested, but a judge has released them because many have children they need to take care of. The girls face up to 7 years in prison if convicted. Read more on HuffPo here, and check out a video below from MYNEWZCENTRAL on YouTube interviewing Russians on asking them how they feel about the trial. (Photo credit: IgorMukhin/Wiki)

Pussy Riot Plays From the Rooftops of Russia


(Photo credit: pussy-riot.livejournal.com)

FEB 27, 2012 – Pussy Riot is a Russian feminist punk musical activist band who stages illegal concerts and protests, often from rooftops, protesting issues such as women's rights in Russia and most recently the policies and re-election campaign of Prime Minister Putin. Wearing skimpy outfits even in cold weather and stylish balaclavas, they release Internet videos of their illegal concerts in public places. Recently they managed to stage a concert in strictly guarded Red Square, and were arrested. After being held for 5 hours, they were fined 500 rubles (about $17 US) and released. On their website they say, “We Believe That the Soviet Union's Aggressive Imperial Politics are Similar in many Ways to Putin's course. The way the State treats its Citizens hasn't changed much since the times of the USSR; there is still paternalist supervision and police control over people.” They add, “Some of us are anarchists, leftist Have some Liberal Positions. We would like horizontal political activity, self-organization and the capability to be aware of oneself as an equal participant in civil politics, to understand one's rights and fight for them to develop. Russian Society lacks tolerance and lenience.”

If you have Google Chrome, you can use the translator to check out their site here, where you can see pics of them staging one of their public protest concerts at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral which ruffled a lot of feathers. Check out one of their videos below.

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