Pussy Riot vs. Patriarch Kirill

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by Joshua Foust on 3/27/2012

Last month, the all-girl Russian punk band Pussy Riot did something amazing: they staged a “punk prayer” in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. Before that, they’d staged an illegal concert on top of the detention center where dissident Alex Navalny was being held — demanding his release.

The band staged a protest in the Orthodox Church for a good reason: they think it is instrumental to Vladimir Putin’s autocratic rule.

We were deeply saddened that you allowed the Church to become a weapon in a dirty election campaign and urged the faithful to vote for a man who is as far as can be from God’s truth… You cannot believe in an earthly tsar if his deeds contradict those values for which the Heavenly Tsar was crucified.

Naturally, the Orthodox Church was appalled, and Patriarch Kirill has condemned them for desecrating the church.

“Those people don’t believe in the power of prayer, they believe in the power of propaganda, in the power of lies and slander, in the power of Internet and mass media, in the power of money and weapons. We believe in the power of prayer. I call on the whole Russian Orthodox Church for passionate and diligent praying for our country, for our trust, for our people, for God to forgive us our sin.”

Of course, Pussy Riot are right. Just last month, Patriarch Kirill called the Putin Era a “miracle of God,” comparing the Yeltsin era to, of all things, the 1941 Nazi invasion. So at least he has a good sense of proportion.

Anyway, some members of Pussy Riot have been jailed for their anti-Putin stunts, and are offering to host Kirill in their jail cells to discuss their political differences. Something tells me he won’t take any of them up on their offer.

Meanwhile, speculation is growing that the “mini-thaw,” which allowed some protests before the election, is now over because of this and other politicized prosecutions on trumped up charges. If this is an actual trend, rather than a cluster of bad news, then it bodes poorly for any future Russia, especially for Russia-U.S. relations.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on Registan.net.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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