Legal Analysis Of The Pussy Riot Case

Alex Mercouris has penned a long and extremely erudite analysis of the case against Pussy Riot. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Go, read.

There are just a few things I would add:

(1) I think one of the closest historical analogues to this case in Anglo world is the 2 month imprisonment of Nicolas Walter for indecency at a Labour Party church service in Brighton for heckling Harold Wilson in 1966 for his support of the Vietnam War. (Imagine swapping those words for “United Russia church service in Sochi”…). Needless to say that “performance” was inestimably more directly political than than that of Pussy Riot.

(2) Re-Mercouris’ question on the precise wording of Article 213 on hooliganism, and whether using weapons is an integral part of it. Here is the text of the law along with my literal translation of the relevant part:

“Hooliganism… committed with: a) the usage of weapons, or objects used as weapons; b) on motives of political, ideological, racial, national, or religious hatred or enmity, or on motives of hatred or enmity towards some social group, – is punished by…”

I do not know if (a) and (b) here have an AND relation, or an OR relation to each other. As a lawyer however I hope Mercouris can furnish the answer to his own question now.

Edit 8/11: This question has been conclusively answered. It’s an “OR.”

  • Dear Anatoly,

    Your translation of Article 213 has completely clarified the point. It is clear that use of weapons is not an essential feature for the offence of hooliganism to be made out. I rather suspected that the problem was one of poor translation and you have confirmed it.

    • AK

      Thanks for clarifying!

      I suspect now would be a good thing to shorten/summarize the essay and have it published in a newspaper. I don’t have the connections for that but I know a few people who might. Let me check…

  • Dear Anatoly,

    I should also thank you for your kind words and would reiterate what I say in the acknowledgement that I could never have written this post without the links you provided and your support.

    By the way I intend to copy the post to various British journalists I either know or know of. Two that I have in mind are William Rees Mogg of the Times who wrote the famous 1969 editorial about not breaking a butterfly on a wheel and the other is Charles Moore of the Daily Telegraph. I have absolutely no expectations that this will achieve anything but both William Rees Mogg and Charles Moore are influential journalists and Christians and in view of the propaganda about the case the Guardian is spewing out I think they at least should now what the facts are.

  • Moscow Exile

    I was travelling into the country by commuter train the other day, when I noticed a youth sporting a T-shirt, on which was emblazoned: Свобода PUSSY RIOT (Freedom PUSSY RIOT).

    So for some, it seems, the PR affair has acquired the enormity of Nelson Mandela’s political imprisonment.

    It then suddenly occurred to me that I should have made a T-shirt with the following declaration printed on it:

    Засунь замороженную курицу в пизду!

    Freedom of expression, innit?

    Work of art an’ all.

  • Moscow Exile

    I have just noticed on RT that that renowned sage of the popular music industry known as “Madonna” has also jumped on the free-Pussy-Riot bandwagon in that at her Moscow concert she has made a supportive speech of the “feminist punk group”, as RT insists on labelling these anarcho-communist attention-seekers.

    As Alexander Mercouris has most eruditely pointed out, PR in no way can be described as musicians, nor can they be described as having a discernible feminist message to their “performances”. Madonna, however, in her supportive speech for PR, spoke of the suppression of talented people, presumably meaning that she believes PR are talented musicians, which reveals how little this person knows about the methods and motives of the PR collective and it’s parent organization “Voina”.

    The way RT pumps out the Western line is blatantly obvious in this Madonna article. It is presented as an objective report: the American performer voiced her support of PR and she was applauded by the audience. No mention in the article of the fact that she was applauded by some of the audience and that some people were protesting about the American performer’s intention to comment on the PR case.

    The last time Madonna performed in Moscow, she appeared on stage in a parody of the crucifixion of Christ in that she rose from the stage affixed to a cross, an action that caused many ROC believers to protest outside of the venue of her concerts.

    • Dear Moscow Exile,

      I may be completely wrong but I have got the impression that Madonna was much more hesitant about voicing support for Pussy Riot. However she has come under some attack in Britain (where she lives) for her seeming reluctance to do so and may have felt pressured into saying something. In the event her comment seems to have been quite brief.

      As for Madonna’s frequent use of Christian imagery in her performances, Madonna is a genuine artist and entertainer and a certain licence has always been granted to such people in their artistic performances. Pussy Riot do not have this defence since on their own admission the event in the Cathedral was not so much an artistic or musical performance but a protest.

      • Kibernetika

        Seems that NYT is officially in the PR camp (a surprise to all!), so the official US popular media narrative is now officially established and cast in bronze.

        http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/08/the-riot-girls-style/

        I’ve now watched some of the PR videos, cough, and am now even less sympathetic to their cause. Well, I understand that that sounds terribly unsympathetic, but I’m being honest. They are not musicians, and not agents of change.

        What would Vera Figner, or even — extremes en vogue! — Sergei Ne4aev say about these confused kids? They’d see these videos and be rather repulsed — or horribly bored.