Russia tells the world it has learned nothing from its authoritarian history and goes right on being authoritarian by sentencing Pussy Riot to two years in prison. For what? For staging a political protest in a church.
“The girls’ actions were sacrilegious, blasphemous and broke the church’s rules,” Judge Marina Syrova told the court as she spent three hours reading the verdict while the women stood watching in handcuffs inside a glass courtroom cage.
Maybe all three of those claims are true, but they still shouldn’t be subject to punishment by the state. The state shouldn’t be telling people what is “sacrilegious” or whether or not they’re allowed to do things that are “sacrilegious.” The state shouldn’t be concerning itself with what is or is not “blasphemous.” The church’s rules should be for the church to enforce, along with proportional, reasonable state enforcement of privacy and/or property laws if they applied. But sacrilege, blasphemy, the church’s rules? Not the state’s business. Putin isn’t a tsar.
She declared all three guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, saying they had deliberately offended Russian Orthodox believers by storming the altar of Moscow’s main cathedral in February to belt out a song deriding Putin.
There it is again. Not something the state should be policing. Russia isn’t supposed to be a theocracy.
Russia’s like Basil Fawlty, isn’t it; it just can’t get it right. Stalin on the one hand, crawling to the church on the other.
Valentina Ivanova, 60, a retired doctor, said outside the courtroom: “What they did showed disrespect towards everything, and towards believers first of all.”
Not a crime. Not worthy of two years in prison. Respect for everything should not be mandated by the state or enforced by the judiciary.
“Evil must be punished,” said Maria Butilno, 60, who held an icon and said Pussy Riot had insulted the faithful.
It’s not the state’s job to punish “evil.” Let the faithful take comfort in the thought that God will teach them better in the next world. (Seriously. Why isn’t that the best outcome? Skip the punishment. Just be patient, and in due course God will show them where they went wrong, and all wounds will be healed.)