Friday, August 17, 2012

Russia: Pussy Riot's Guilty Verdict



          Russian and anglophone Twitter users responded to the guilty verdict and two-year prison sentence handed down to Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich on August 17, 2012.
          The women were arrested last March after a February performance inside Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior, just before Vladimir Putin retook the Russian Presidency amid charges of election fraud. 

Russia's Pussy Riot found guilty, Moscow, 17 August 2012 by Maria Pleshkova, copyright © Demotix. 

Setting the stage

          It took the judge several hours to read out the guilty verdict fully, before announcing the two-year sentence. Prosecutors had requested as many as seven years in prison for the women, two of whom are mothers to small children.

Journalist and former New York Times Moscow Bureau Chief Glenn Kates tweeted:
@gkates: Great, great photos by @hegtor of #pussyriot before this incredibly long reading began. http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=450091
Specialist in Russian politics, Francesca Mereu tweeted:
 ‏@francescamereu:  The theater of absurd:three beautiful young women handcuffed like criminals; judge reading swear words #freepussyriot
Radio Freedom (Радио Свобода) tweeted a link to an article highlighting the now global awareness about the trial [ru]:
‏ @SvobodaRadio: Полсотни городов мира - для Pussy Riot http://goo.gl/nVivO
‏ @SvobodaRadio [ru]: 50 cities of the world - for Pussy Riot http://t.co/WBJHlpWb

Verdict announced

          Blogger and activist Alexey Navalny reported that music heard during the reading of the verdict originated somewhere outside on the street, but succeeded in reaching the inside the courtroom. Some Twitter users observed that the three defendants began smiling.
‏@navalny:В зале заиграла песня PR. С улицы, но очень громко.
‏@navalny [ru]: In the hall, a [Pussy Riot] was played. From outside, but very loudly.

          A Twitter account representing the anglophone 'Free Pussy Riot' LiveJournal blog added to its regular courtroom updates a note about the music:
‏@Eng_Pussy_Riot: In the courtroom song of #PussyRiot is playing. From the street, but very loud. #Freepussyriot
Mental health issues

          The Guardian's Moscow correspondent, Miriam Elder, provided live updates throughout the reading of the verdict:
@MiriamElder: We're now talking about the women's psychological health. Have entered hour three.
Denis Parfenov responded to debate about the defendants' sanity:
‏@parfenov_:Dear #pussyriot's judge: "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." ~ Krishnamurti @MiriamElder
Other twitter users detailed the judge's psychological assessment, highlighting choice absurdities:
‏@ioffeinmoscow: Psychological expertise determines Tolokonnikova has "partial personality disturbance," bc "makes decisions based on personal experience."
The sentence is read
‏@TelenL: Толоконниковой - 2 года, Самуцевич - 2 года, Алехина - 2 года. #Хамсуд.
‏@TelenL [ru]: Tolokonnikova - 2 years, Saumtsevich - 2 years, Alyokhina - 2 years. #verdict

          Some microbloggers recalled a statement President Putin made at #London2012, where he expressed his hope that the women would not be "judged too harshly:"
‏@RusPoliceWatch: So Putin's "not too harshly" translates into two years in jail. #PussyRiot
Other Twitter users speculated about the trial's historical significance:
@ioffeinmoscow: The judge said one of the reasons for a "real sentence" was to "caution others." And now you know. #PussyRiot
‏@ForeignPolicy: Pussy Riot: already the most politically influential punk rock group ever http://bit.ly/MVh8DL
          Wisconsin-based Jacob Turk tried to remind readers that the Pussy Riot members are not the only Russians facing prosecution for political activism:
‏@randomdijit: Deserves a RT. Not all of Putin's "guests" are photogenic young women. And some get much worse than 2 years rferl.org/content/russ … @RFERL
          Finally, an American expat living in Russia, Timothy Post, caustically observed that the duration of the sentence means that Pussy Riot could incite more controversy during the 2014 Sochi Olympic games:
‏@timothypost: So that means #PussyRiot will STILL be in jail during the #Sochi2014 Winter Olympics. Does NOBODY on Putin's team understand modern PR?!?!!
          RuNet Echo coverage of the Pussy Riot trial and the social context surrounding the case can be found here and here.

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