With friends like these, does Pussy Riot need enemies?

The verdict in Russia’s trial of feminist punk group Pussy Riot is expected this morning; it will probably have been announced by the time you read this. The group was arrested after staging a brief impromptu performance at the famous Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, rebuilt in 2000 after being demolished to make way for the never-built Palace of the Soviets in 1931. The performers have been formally charged with khuliganstvo (“hooliganism”), the old catchall term that meant in Soviet days, and means now, that one has done something not otherwise criminal of which the Organs do not approve.

The trial is rightly regarded as an outrage. There’s no indication or suggestion that Pussy Riot did any physical damage to the church; their appearance lasted mere seconds before they were escorted out. And Russian Orthodoxy’s grovelling support for Putinism has certainly made it a valid target of protest. Pussy Riot are nothing less than old-fashioned political prisoners, and they deserve the exterior moral support that Russian political prisoners have always received from Europe and the West—whether a Tsar, a Central Committee, or an outdoorsy populist President is running the show.

It has come to the attention of Canadians that Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova may be a permanent resident of Canada. Indeed, Lisa Kirbie, who seems to have been first in Canada to notice the possibility, is waxing wroth about being bigfooted on the story by the Toronto Star. (No, reporting the same facts as somebody else isn’t plagiarism, by any definition. But it’s certainly poor form.) “Is Nadezhda Tolokonnikova a Canadian?” Kirbie asks. “Why won’t the Harper government step up and help her?”

Lisa Kirbie can have the glory if she wants it, but I don’t know that I’d be so eager, under the same circumstances, to be seen as a catspaw of Putin’s government. Nadezhda T.’s alleged permanent-resident card was shown in this Russian state news broadcast. If you watch, you’ll see it’s a 60 Minutes-style “gotcha” story, clearly arranged with the help of the local prosecutor: Tolokonnikova tells the reporter specifically that she did not get a Canadian residency permit, and there’s a quick cut to the office of one of Putin’s heavies, who lets the camera linger lovingly over Tolokonnikova’s Canadian residency documents.

Now, if a Russian prosecutor from absolutely any era of history informed me that I have two testicles, I’d reach down and give them a real quick count. But Tolokonnikova’s husband has apparently confirmed that the docs are legit. It is still curious that it’s the friends of Pussy Riot who are hyping her status—in the name of trying to establish that Tolokonnikova might be a “Canadian”, even though it is precisely the point of “permanent resident” status that holders are not Canadian citizens and have no claim on Canadian consular assistance in their home countries. In exchange for that dubious benefit, they’ve helped Putin’s regime trap Tolokonnikova in a televised fib and made her look, to xenophobic Russians, like a troublemaking tourist who got in over her head. Heckuva job, guys!

The Canadian government should advocate for Tolokonnikova—and for the other members of her group, too: not because of some connection to Canada, but in the name of ushering thoughtcrime and classic authoritarianism off the stage of history. A rally for Pussy Riot is planned for Toronto and other world cities today. I trust none of the attendees will be Canadians who have availed themselves in the past of the cheap sensual delights of Cuba.




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With friends like these, does Pussy Riot need enemies?

  1. It looks like she never received the residency permit because it is affixed to the letter. It looks like the government intercepted the documents in the mail. She may have been granted asylum/refugee status for obvious reasons.

  2. ” Cosh writes: (No, reporting the same facts as somebody else isn’t “plagiarism”, by any definition. But it’s certainly poor form.)

    In the post linked to, Ms. Kirbie doesn’t accuse the Star of “plagiarism”. She merely says she would have liked a “hat tip”. Unless you can provide a link that says she accuses them of plagiarism, perhaps you should offer an apology.

    • I’ll drop the quotation marks. She is not the one who used the term, but it has been used.

    • Yes, because Star articles regularly end with “Hat tip to Lala!” *That’s* professional journalism, right there. (Oh, no. Now Dinky Winky will sue me.)

  3. O/U on how long it takes for Kinsella to threaten a lawsuit on this one?

  4. Establishing the gal’s Canadian connection should have been the job of the Canadian media. Lisa did your work for you, Colby. And in fact this is twice in two days that a Canadian reporter trashed a Canadian blogger (D. Akin vs. The Sixth Estate) for doing their job for them. In both cases it tastes of sour grapes. But remember fellas, someone has to do the work you’re getting paid for. You’re obviously not going to.

    • Saying “Hey, this Russian YouTube video is interesting” counts as “work” now? A scoop is a scoop, but give your head a shake. (Then try doing so again before imputing some kind of primeval, heart-clutching “MSM” fear of blogging to somebody whose entire career has been founded on it.)

      • It involved a bit of translation too, as far as I can tell. How long did it take you to honk out x hundred words on how a Canadian blog making note of the contents of a clip ALREADY PLAYED on Russian tv plays into the hands of the evil Russian empire? Because I hope it wasn’t very long.

      • It also involved translating portions of the clip. In any case, how long did it take to honk out x hundred words re how a Canadian blog making note of material in a clip already shown on Russian TV somehow played into the hands of the evil empire? Because I hope it didn’t take long.

    • Yes BCL – your performance on SUNTV set the example LOL

    • But Mike – you are going to set ths right? Lisa is your gal-pal? Thought she was RW’s and WK’s???
      From your own blog.
      “PS. Lisa, if you want me to drive out to Lethbridge and smack this guy,
      I’d be happy to”.

      • A smitten man will do strange things for love. Like driving to Lethbridge to fight a guy who lives in Edmonton. (Address available on request to all tough customers from the Internet.)

        • After his 1 time appearance on SUNTV – a torontonian does odd things under the midnight sun.

        • Lmao!

  5. Colby, while I am with you in finding the Cuban regime odious, contemptible and utterly unsupportable, perhaps the expectation of an untrammelled record of ideological purity before one participates in political protest is too high a bar?

    • I can just say “No, it’s not”, right?

      • Let she who has never been to Cuba perform the first anti-Putin protest.

      • Well it’s certainly easier than trying to respond intelligently.

  6. Actually, my blogger-husband broke this story two days before Kirbie did.

    http://tinyurl.com/98kdloa

    And I don’t expect Kirbie and co would be so keen to defend Pussy Riot had they stormed a mosque.

    • That’s not breaking a story. That’s pointing with incomprehension to something your husband clearly didn’t understand. And what has any of this got to do with mosques?

      • Ya pretty much gotta explain everything to Murph… Here ya go: If Pussy Riot had been protesting the Muslim bombers who are making a mess of some of the southern areas of Russia, maybe saying women don’t want to live under sharia, would you or your best buds L and W be making as big a fuss? I bet not.

        • You explained nothing, you just switched on your imagination and created something out of nothing.
          If you have an explanation have at it, but I produced a moire coherent argument the last time I blew my nose.

        • I bet that if the band had shot up a Sikh temple Shaidle and her hubby would have bought five copies of their album.

          • Hey Murph – how is that threat against Colby in Lethbridge going for ya? Smack him for Lisa if she asks?

    • Love the way we had to go through your site to get to the old man.
      Gotta keep the advertisers happy and the hit counter ticking.

  7. Love how Kinsella conveniently mentioned it was a “Canadian blogger” who broke the story, but when you link to her blog she says how Kinsella is both her partner and “amazing”. Good luck with the first part of that sentence, the second part …. not so much.

  8. Cosh Just read your tweet about one example of role of faith in development of democracy and I would suggest W Russell Mead’s Faith and Progress and also remind you that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. Pussy Riot women and their supporters are trying to pursue their happiness while The State tries to stifle dissent.
    ———
    “Lisa Kirbie can have the glory if she wants it, but I don’t know that I’d be so eager, under the same circumstances, to be seen as a catspaw of Putin’s government. ”

    Ludwig von Mises ~ Planned Chaos:

    The militant communists are to be found only in the ranks of those who make a living from their communism or expect that a revolution would further their personal ambitions. The subversive activities of these professional plotters are dangerous precisely on account of the naivety of those who are merely flirting with the revolutionary idea. Those confused and misguided sympathizers who call themselves “liberals” and whom the communists call “useful innocents,” the fellow-travellers and even the majority of the officially registered party members, would be terribly frightened if they were to discover one day that their chiefs mean business when preaching sedition.

  9. I find it interesting that if you parse the Russian court’s decision, basically the court is asserting that there is a legal right (in this case, I guess it’s the right of the Orthodox Church and its adherents) not to be offended by what someone else (in this case, Pussy Riot) does or says. And that’s in the complete absence of any libel, slander, incitement or anything like that. Essentially it’s the same position that certain people in Canada asssert, e.g., if I’m offended by what someone else says, I should be able to march off to a human rights commission, complain and have that person prosecuted and punished.
    So I find it a little bit ironic that many of these progressive Canadian liberal types who are often huge fans of the HRC hate-speech provisions are falling all over themselves in defence of Pussy Riot. A rather “selective” approach to support of free speech rights, IMO.

    • Hmm, you seem to have gone Cosh one better and gone for the collective guilt approach. Nicely done.

    • Could you please point to an example, any example, of an HRC sentencing anyone, anywhere, to a two year prison term for staging a peaceful protest?

      If not, could you point to any example of an HRC sentencing anyone, anywhere to ANY time in prison for any offence?

      Finally, and this one you might be able to pull off, has an HRC anywhere in Canada ever even RECOMMENDED that someone somewhere be criminally prosecuted for something?

      • No, no and no.
        Way to completely miss my point.
        You’re fixated on the punitive powers of a court vs. a HRC and the fact that HRC proceedings and offences are not, legally speaking, “criminal” in nature. I get that, but HRCs still have significant state power to impose hardship, misery, humiliation etc. on those whom they prosecute. Apparently to you, that’s no big deal, even irrelevant. I disagree. I’m well aware of the fact that an HRC can’t throw you in jail. Hurray for freedom.
        Meanwhile, they can drag you through their process, which consists of government investigators and prosecutors using all their (essentially unlimited) resources, while the defendant has to pay all of his or her own legal costs. Then at the end, the HRC can fine you, subject you to “remedial orders”, force you to do all sorts of things (including things that may cost you significant amounts of your own money), including of course making abject public apologies to those whom you have offended.
        In any event, in my original post, I was focusing on the substantive nature of the alleged offence, not the nature of the legal proceedings flowing from it, which I agree are different. I still stand by my original point, which your post did absolutely nothing to refute and in fact did not even address — i.e., that in both cases, the state is prosecuting people merely for causing “offence” to other people, and in both cases essentially a legal right not to be offended is being asserted and enforced.

        • I’m no big lover of the HRCs myself, I guess I just overreacted based on an NP article about this that made the same comparisons, quite explicitly, without even MENTIONING that HRCs can’t impose jail sentences. In the context of Pussy Riot, where many people believe that they probably should have been punished, but it’s the two years in JAIL that’s problematic, the comparison to the HRCs is even less apropos.

          I may have taken some of my frustration at the shoddiness of the NP article out on your comment, but still. When discussing the merits of peaceful protesters being given jail sentences, I don’t think it’s exactly fair to compare the situation to that of judicial or quasi-judicial bodies that can’t impose jail sentences. Certainly not without mentioning that said bodies can’t put people in jail.

      • Pussy Riot did their concert when, this summer? Summer isn’t even done, and an unjust court rendered an unjust decision quickly.

        How long did it take the BCHRC to come down with a decision on the stand up comic? Is that finished yet? A ridiculous injustice drawn out over years.

        I fail to see how you can defend the Canadian system. Neither court systems should have an opinion on entertainment or even political statements. Both do, both are as rotten as the other.

    • You are confusing what obfuscationary craphounds like Levant say HRCs do with what they actually do. There is no excuse for a thinking individual to do so.

      • I’m well aware of what HRCs do, thanks, having studied human rights law and all. If anything I’ve posted is false, then please point out what’s false. You know, that “facts” stuff. Otherwise, you’re just engaging in ad hominem obfuscatory crap yourself.
        And just to be clear — I’m totally supportive of the other very important and necessary work that the HRCs do, in areas like discrimination in employment, housing etc. I’m not anti-HRC at all, but their hate speech provisions are ill-conceived and highly problematic.

  10. There is a right to free speech and then there is the right of people not to be inconvenienced by such free speech. That is why soapboxes in parks were set up. However, today’s protesters/anarchists think that the right to free speech means occupying church lawns, protesting in churches, smashing windows and setting cars on fire. Why is that? Because people aren’t paying attention to the spoiled brats, that’s why. I think it is time law enforcement drew it to their attention that destroying another person’s rights is not free speech. The people attending their Orthodox church service had every right not to have it interrupted.

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