Pussy Riot, Vladmir Putin, Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Kirill

Patriarch Kirill on Pascha (Easter) 2011

The Russian Orthodox Church (Русская Православная Церковь, Russkaya Pravoslavnaya Tserkov’) has, throughout its bloodstained and treacherous history, been the chief enemy of people who were unfortunate to come under its draconic control.  Headed by the Patriarch of Moscow (Московский Патриархат, Moskovskiy Patriarkhat).  Like past Tsars, the Patriarchs of Russia has been responsible for the assassination of more than tens of millions of its congregants and those unfortunate to be forced into communion with it by a demented and corrupt clergy.

There has been few mangled moments in Russia’s raw violence-laced history where the concept separation between state and church no matter how marginal, was allowed or practiced save for the short period of time from 1917 to 1919, as even Stalin tolerated religion if it met his needs. Stalin, like Lenin, saw in religion an “opiate [drug] of the masses” but tolerated it when it supported each leader.

The Russian Orthodox Church Synod’s recognition of the Soviet government and of Stalin personally led to a schism with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (Русская Православная Церковь Заграницей).  It separated from the Russian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in 1927 after an imprisoned Patriarch Sergius I of Moscow pledged the Church’s qualified loyalty to the Bolshevik state, but restored some times with Moscow in 2007, signing the Act of Canonical Communion with the Moscow Patriarchate on May 17, restoring the canonical link between the churches. 

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow (February 1, 2099)

Some of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia’s most vocal critics questioned the wisdom of the accord noting that the Patriarch of Moscow still had ties with the KGB and the spy network of the state had infilitrated the Patriarchate itself (David Holley (May 17, 2007). “Russian Orthodox Church ends 80-year split”. Los Angeles Times.).  This tie with the KGB became even stronger and more apparent with the elevation of Kirill to the dignity of Patriarch of all Russias.

With enabling by the Tsars, the Russian Orthodox Church has been in the forefront of secular affairs. It instituted  an Inquisition more vile and bloody than even that of Spain’s fifteenth century draconian denizens within the Roman Catholic communion, and by commanding blind obedience to the clergy the atrocities continue. 

Anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire

While most of the power in Russia is in the gnarled fist of the Patriarch, this creature chairs the Архиерейский Собо (Bishops Council) that favors imprisoning or eliminating “heretics” and others who question its absolute control. Seldom has the Russian Orthodox Church shown any empathy or sympathy for those who do not concur in its medieval mentality that exists today. 

The only thing that differentiates the Patriarch and the Pope in Rome is that Moscow’s Metropolitan monitoring for Jesus has no absolute control over faith. Unlike the west that is plagued with the principal of infallibility (as decreed by Pope Pius IX) there is no patriarchal infallibility in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Crucifixion of Saint Andrew

Legend has it that the Apostle Andrew, the brother of St. Peter, was the founder and the first bishop of the Church of Byzantium and is consequently the patron saint of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Legend has it that Andrew visited Scythia  and founded the church that would filter through the social sewers into Moscow before he was bound to a cross (not the X that tradition claims he died upon) and suffered on it, not being nailed to it (Monumenta Germaniae Historica II, cols. 821-847).  In Moscow the religion of Andrew was not met with joy or celebration— or immediate conversion. 

Photius of Constantinople (ca. 810-893)

Moscow had a rebellious noble class locked in an internal war with its chief leader and an eternal battle with its people whose gardens it rode over, homes it burned, and raped its women and children when the poor were not besieged by the clergy.  There is evidence that the first Christian bishop was sent to Novgorod from Constantinople either by Patriarch Photius or Patriarch Ignatios, circa 866-867 CE (Bakalov, Georgi P. (2003). История на българите: Istorija na Bălgarite : v osem toma / 1 Ot drevnostta do kraja na XVI vek. History of the Bulgarians from Antiquity to the 16th Century. Изд-во “Знание” : Книгоиздателска къща “Труд”, Sofija : Izdat. “Znanie” [u.a.), but native religions remained the primary force in religion until the tenth century when Princess Olga of Kiev became the first ruler of Kievan Rus to convert to Christianity, either in 945 or 957, forcing her household to join her religion. Her grandson, Vladimir the Great, made Kievan Rus’ (Rus’ Khaganate) a Christian state (Photii Patriarchae Constantinopolitani Epistulae et Amphilochia. Ed. B. Laourdas, L.G. Westerinck. T.1. Leipzig, Deutschland, 1983. p. 49), and as it was in the Greek Empire of Constantine I, where all those who chose to live were required to adopt the new and despised cult of Christianity.

Boris Mihail

Conversion was not a matter of faith.  Existing records show that the Slavs, as they were known, were galvanized by the Byzantines by their “persuasive” words or promises of great wealth to come (in the next world) and rich presents (in this world), including gold, silver, and precious tissues that would be offered at the time of conversion. The official document created by the churches in Kiev and Constantinople repeat the dubious tale that the country people (called pagans) were particularly impressed by a miracle: a gospel book thrown by the archbishop [sic] into an oven was not damaged by fire.  This legend has neither historical foundation nor any temporal or secular record.

It was the receipt of the “rich presents” that influenced the Slavs, as it did the Vikings, into converting, and in part pride as those who were sent to convert the “pagans” were minor functionaries or low bishops in the early Church.  The people rejected “a[ny] lowly bishop” and demanded a cleric of higher status (such as an archbishop) who would “carry great wealth” with him to entice the people to convert to a faith most found absurd (Петрухин В.Я [Петрухин, Владимир Яковлевич ](1995). Начало этнокультурной истории Руси IX-XI вв. Moscow: Gnozis,  p. 220; cp. A. Avenarius (1978). Christianity in 9th-century Rus. // Beitruge zur byzantinischen Geschichte im 9.-11. Jahrhundert. Prague: V. Vavrinek, 1978. pp. 301-315). 

There are some records that speak of “forced conversions” but most of these were at the instruction of Slav rulers: princess, princes, and other noble born people. The actual dating of the forced conversions remains conjecture, with Muslim and Christian sources disagreeing as to the century, cause, or led by which saint or ruler. 

Khazaria 850 CE

Some authorities argue that the conversion was a political and economic act, while others claim that the Christianization of both Bulgaria and Rus’ (the actual name of Russia) was triggered by the adoption of Judaism by their chief enemy, the Khazaria empire, in the late 8th or early 9th century (Florja B.N., Litavrin G.G. (1988). Christianisation of the Nations of Central and South-East Europe and the Conversion of Old Rus. // Byzantinoslavica. 49. p. 186).  Zuckerman argues that the conversion was a veneer, and was quickly dispatched at the most propitious moment when the rulers least expected a popular revolt (Zuckerman, Constantine. Deux etapes de la formation de l’ancien etat russe, dans Les centres proto-urbains russes entre Scandinavie, Byzance et Orient. Actes du Colloque International tenu au College de France en octobre 1997, ed. M. Kazanski, A. Nersessian et C. Zuckerman (Realites byzantines 7), Paris 2000, p. 95-120).

Throughout the Middle Ages and through the days of the Russian Revolution (1917), the church acted charitably to the monarchy and later to the initial White Russian government before it was replaced by the Bolsheviks.  With the Communists in power, the church became an underground movement to control the people and their lives.  By the time of Vladimir Putin, the Russian Orthodox Church had become subservient to the state. Clifford J. Levy of the New York Times wrote in April 2008: “Just as the government has tightened control over political life, so, too, has it intruded in matters of faith. The Kremlin’s surrogates in many areas have turned the Russian Orthodox Church into a de facto official religion, warding off other Christian denominations that seem to offer the most significant competition for worshipers. … This close alliance between the government and the Russian Orthodox Church has become a defining characteristic of Mr. Putin’s tenure, a mutually reinforcing choreography that is usually described here as working ‘in symphony’.”

Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill show closeness of ties between state and church at a reception at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral

Few dared to cross the divide.  This divide was not crossed until a group of young mothers known as Pussy Riot broke into song in protest on February 21. 

Pussy Riot in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral

Wearing colourful balaclavas, short dresses and bright tights Pussy Riot burst into the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in central Moscow and belted out a “punk prayer” to the Virgin Mary to “Throw Putin out!” protesting the pending dictatorship of former KGB head and Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin who had the support of the Russian Orthodox metropolitan patriarch Kirill.  Kirill was deep into the political and financial pockets of Putin, calling Putin’s 12-year rule “a miracle of God”.  This adulation startled many, even within the backward and venal Russian Holy Synod, but went unchallenged when those within the Synod recounted the billions of dollars the Patriarch had made off of illegal sale of cigarettes, alcohol, and real estate.  As one Russian wrote:  

By 1997, Kirill admitted the import of alcohol and tobacco, but claimed that the Russian Orthodox Church could not refuse the “humanitarian help.” The Russian Orthodox Church and Kirill’s private foundation “Nika” were not-for-profit organizations, and in 1996 alone they imported eight billion cigarettes to Russia. Kirill’s “church” business took off like a snowball, as the legal competitors could not compete with his low prices for tobacco and alcohol. The importers were naturally pushed off the market as they could not match Kirill’s prices after paying the necessary government dues.

In 2001, Kirill purchased the penthouse in Moscow, and people familiar with the matter claimed that Kirill shifted his interest into real estate, oil, and stocks. According to the research of the Russia’s shadow economy conducted by the Russian State Humanitarian University in 2004, Kirill’s fortune eclipsed at four billion US dollars.

Kirill knows that cigarettes cause cancer, alcohol deadens brain cells, and his philandering can lead to HIV, but that does not bother the Patriarch.  He is bothered by “western influences” and music–which bother’s Pussy Riot.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L), Yekaterina Samutsevich(C) and Maria Alyokhina (R) members of female punk band Pussy Riot attend their trial inside the defendant’s cell in a court in Moscow August 3, 2012

Pussy Riot’s performance was part of a wider winter protest movement against Putin’s return to the presidency for a third term. It was the largest such wave of dissent he has faced in his 12 years serving either as president or prime minister.

Russia has always been a police state from the days of the earliest Tsars to the nadir grave of Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev (Никита Сергеевич Хрущёв) and Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (Владимир Владимирович Путин).  Russia had never tasted democracy, as the lawyers for Pussy Riot noted in their comments to Reuters and other news services:

Members of female punk band Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (C), Maria Alyokhina (R) and Yekaterina Samutsevich sit behind bars before a court hearing in Moscow July 20 2012/REUTERS: Tatyana Makeyeva

Violetta Volkova, one of the band’s lawyers said: “The authorities are now trying to imitate the rule of law and an unbiased trial,” then asked: “Why imitate? Because the … looming harsh sentence will prove that the court is independent. If Putin did not intend to influence the trial, he should not have made any statements. He should have stayed silent”.  On August 3, 2012, Putin, while in London had told reporters that the Russian court trying Pussy Riot to show leniency toward feminist punk band, calling into question the independence of Russia’s notoriously politicised court system  Putin concluded: “”Nonetheless, I don’t think they should be judged too severely for this, but the final decision rests with the courts – I hope the court will deliver a correct, well-founded ruling.”

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (3rd L), Yekaterina Samutsevich (3rd R) and Maria Alyokhina (R) members of female punk band Pussy Riot are escorted by police before a court hearing in Moscow August 8

“Today’s decision only proves again that our role as defendants here is a pure formality,” Feigin told reporters after the hearing, which was closed to the media.

“There is a lot of evidence that the judge will disregard justice in favour of a [sic] pre-set instructions on how to rule, which have been handed down by the authorities. They want to find them guilty… to punish them with real jail time.”

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (C) a member of the female punk band Pussy Riot escorted to a police van August 8, 2012 photo/REUTERS:Sergi Karpukhim

Defence lawyer Mark Feigin said the court’s acquiescence to a prosecution request to hold Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich until January 13, 2013, showed Russian leaders had given orders for their conviction.

The recreancy of the Russian Orthodox Church clearly was seen throughout the tragic trial. A church activist read Bible passages out loud (assuredly not: Не судите, да не судимы будете), while one of the women’s supporters unfurled a banner escribed “Throw Putin Out!” raising chants of “Freedom, Freedom!” before he was detained. “Believers’ feelings are not worth a prison sentence,” read another sign held aloft, before rain dispersed the crowd.  Most of the people in Moscow do not support the Russian Orthodox Church, even when publicly polled for their opinion on the case.

Sign reads: “Freedom for Pussy Riot” as Russians support the women against Putin and Kirill

Not once did the odious opportunist Kirill I (“Patriarch of Moscow and all the Rus”: Кирилл I Святейший Патриарх Московский и всея Руси), secular name is Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyayev (Владимир Михайлович Гундяев; born 20 November 1946; his father and grandfather were Russian Orthodox priests) mention any of the political assassinations, planned murders nor numerous suicides that resulted from the dictatorship of Putin. Kirill I personifies mercilessness that is the Russian Orthodox Church. 

Christ the Savior Cathedral, Moscow, Russia

Kirill’s own history is weakly lighted.  On 27 January 2006, Kirill was given the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky by Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia who had escaped the Revolution. On 6 December 2008, the day after the death of Patriarch Alexy II, the Russian Holy Synod elected him locum tenens of the Patriarchal throne. On 9 December, during the funeral service for Alexy II in Christ the Saviour Cathedral (which was broadcast live by Russia’s state TV channels), he was seen and reported to have fainted at one point, but revived to continue public mourning. On December 29, when talking to journalists, he admitted that he was opposed to any reforms of a liturgical or doctrinal nature in the Church, defining himself as a staunch conservative and willing supporter of KBG agent Vladimir Putin. On February 8, 2012, Kirill came out against democracy. He said that those who were demonstrating for democratic reform and the rule of law were emitting “ear piercing shrieks“. On February 28, 2009, Russia President Dmitry Medvedev hosted a reception (a formal banquet) for the ROC bishops in the Grand Kremlin Palace, where Patriarch Kirill pontificated about his Byzantine concept of symphonia: his vision of the ideal of conjoined church-state relations, although he acknowledged that it was not possible to fully attain in Russia today. 

Kirill lamented that there were “too many democrats” who would halt progress of returning to the past and restoring a monarchy subservient to the church. There is substantial evidence that Kirill was a member of the KGB with the code name of “Mikhailov” and that he spied on fellow churchmen within his own church. (Halpin, Tony (January 26, 2009). “Russian Orthodox Church chooses between ‘ex-KGB candidates’ as Patriarch”. London Times) being denounced by many of the Russian Orthodox clergy (read here, in Russian; and here, in Russian).

Since Putin’s return (after serving as prime minister for four years) Russia has toughened rules governing the Internet.  It has increased fines for protesters and introduced new controls for foreign-funded lobby and campaign groups.  Freedom of speech has been severely curtailed.  A free press is a myth, and the Church in Russia almost as corrupt as the Bulgarian Orthodox Church that openly applauds stoning of those who stray from Orthodoxy.  Many people were beginning to realize that Russia was returning to the age of Stalin and that dissent would be brutally crushed. 

The trial against Moscow guerrilla punk band Pussy Riot is drawing to a close. Pussy Riot musicians Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, likened themselves to Soviet-era dissidents—who were rounded up, imprisoned without a trial, and disappeared officially.  The members of Pussy Riot told international media that their trial for performing an anti-Kremlin stunt on a cathedral altar was unjust, but that nobody could take away their inner freedom as they were at peace with themselves.  They saw their act as one of good for all of Russia.  

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova told the courtroom “I want to cry when I see how the methods of the medieval inquisition preside over Russian law enforcement and the judicial system,” she said in a speech peppered with literary references, including to Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whose writing documented life in the Gulag Soviet prison system. The court seemed more like the Cathy family shop hosting Mike Huckabee’s support of Chick-fil-A than a court room weighing real evidence. The justice is but a mouthpiece for church and state, not a true spokeswoman for individual liberty, dignity or respect and honour, as she has none.

Following calls from within the Russian Orthodox Church, led by the monstrous Metropolitan Kirill, for tough punishment of the punk musicians’ impromptu performance inside Moscow’s main cathedral, prosecutors on Tuesday called for three-year prison sentences for each of the three accused women.  In an effort to show fairness, Russia’s carniverous court system selected a woman as judge, and appointed a female attorney for Pussy Riot at its unusually rushed trial proceedings that have lasted late into the evenings. 

Commenting on the case, Patriarch Kirill pathetically pronounced that the women (all of whom are mothers) were “doing the work of Satan”, while the predatory prelate continues to make billions on the sale of cigarettes over which he has a monopoly, his personal wealth estimated to be $1.5 billion by sociologist Nikolai Mitrokhin in 2004, and at $4 billion by The Moscow News in 2006 (Уходящий год ознаменовался историческим событием: две разделенные части Православной Церкви — Русская Православная Церковь (РПЦ) и Русская Православная Церковь Заграницей (РПЦЗ) — подписали Акт о каноническом общении The New Times № 46, December 24, 2007; cp. Ivesta report on December 24, 2002).

Crime, corruption and graft has perpetually plagued the Patriarch and his long-time friend businesswoman Lidia Leonova who owned an apartment with the Patriarch in St. Petersburg (she is also a friend of Vladimir Putin) and sought damages when sand got into the residence.  Sand (or dust as Kirill claimed) was the least of his problems, for the Patriarch was presented with claims of child abuse.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, (right) wearing his $30,000 Breguet watch

Since 2010, Kirill has labored vigorously to cover up all cases of child abuse in the Russian Orthodox Church. Not only have married clergy been accused of pedophilia, but in 2010 news broke of a child abuse scandal involving a monastery in the city of Vladimir, where children are said to have been “hit multiple times, forced to do agricultural labor from 3 a.m. till 10 p.m. with 30-minute breaks for breakfast and lunch”.  Kirill said little, preferring to lash out at punk rockers.  Arrests of priests, aarchimandritess and other members of the clergy on a variety of charges, including money laundering and real estate sales at inflated rates and human rights complaints Krill condemned but offered no solutions nor promised any closer scrutiny over his clergy but labeled charges against the Russian Orthodox Church and its clergy as an attack on god.

Patriarch’s personal wealth on display

Saving the sinner from blasphemy or appearing in any state or stage of disrespect was intolerable to the billionaire prelate.  There were allegations in the courtroom that the defendants wore clothing that was “obviously contrary to general church rules.”  This claim immediately showed the world that Russia was descending into a theocracy more vicious than the one in 1916 when the Imperial family was under the tight control of the mad monk Rasputin. 

Those who were attending “in prayerful observation” suggested that the women were practically possessed by the devil, having “twitched and jumped satanically, throwing their legs up, rolling their heads and calling out very insulting and blasphemous words.” Some religious bystanders called for an exorcist, while others claimed that the physical gyrations of the girls were proof of their sinful nature that could only be eradicated with execution.

Defense attorney Violetta Volkova

Because of the slow summer news cycle, dozens of television teams from around the world went to Russia to report on the grotesque trial at Moscow’s central Khamovniki court.  It slowly dawned on both the Russian Orthodox community and the Kremlin that they may have done themselves a disservice with this ruthless and bizarre prosecution of the anti-Putin band members. A tough verdict would not have the effect of a deterrent, warned Orthodox intellectual and clergyman Andrei Kurayev. On the contrary, the church is provoking copycat crimes and encouraging a radicalization of the opposition, he noted, commenting that there has “never been a shortage of young extremists” in Russia. It was but a re-enactment of the painful plight painted by Dostoevsky that still breathes heavily in Russia and hushed behind prison walls.

Konstantin Sonin, a columnist for the business newspaper Vedomosti, declared that the trial of Pussy Riot was the “worst mistake by the Church since 1901.” It was in 1901, that the Russian Orthodox Church excommunicated the elderly writer Leo Tolstoy.

Patriarch Kirill’s private yacht

The 2012 insanity of Kirill’s actions were at best rash, but by spewing his hatred he lost for himself and his church credibility and support by people incensed at the abrupt harshness of its ecclesiastical representatives.  The billions of dollars he earns by making people ill from smoking, drinking heavily, and gambling, does bring him the capital to buy luxury yachts and a fleet of cars while keeping hundreds of thousands of British pounds in a wall safe while buying obedience from civil officials and political leaders.  The common people, are having little to do with the corruption that surrounds their Patriarch.

Free Pussy Riot protester in Moscow August 8, 2012Mainstream support for Pussy Riot did not waver.  Many Moscow citizens marched in protest of the farcical trial.  Some compared Pussy Riot’s trial with the trial of Jesus Christ. Others held up hastily put-together icons of the girls as crucified saviors.

Over 15,000 protest against trial of Pussy Riot

It was exactly this closeness between the Church and Putin’s regime that Pussy Riot used to justify their appearance in the Moscow cathedral. Because their opponents appear to be so powerful, and conservative politicians like right-wing philosopher Alexander Dugin want to see them “burn on a pyre,” Pussy Riot has netted a wave of solidarity from the West that even imprisoned former oligarch and billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky would envy. 

A painter has stitched his mouth closed in Russia’s second city of St Petersburg to protest the trial August 9, 2012

As questionable as the furor with which the church and justice system are pursuing the band may be, the reactions and expectations from the West are equally exaggerated. Britain’s Observer newspaper called the group Putin’s “biggest political headache” (it is not), and the answer to the German weekly Der Freitag asked, “Can these women overthrow Putin?” The answer is no. 

Yekaterina Samutsevich charged with crime of performing a punk prayer

Pussy Riot had the ultimate words in this contest between the plutocratic Christian terrorism of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and the people of Russia.   Band member Yekaterina Samutsevich’s defiant and wise words were:

Our sudden musical appearance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior with the song “Mother of God, Drive Putin Out” violated the integrity of this media image, generated and maintained by the authorities for so long, and revealed its falsity. In our performance we dared, without the Patriarch’s blessing, to combine the visual image of Orthodox culture and protest culture, suggesting to smart people that Orthodox culture belongs not only to the Russian Orthodox Church, the Patriarch and Putin, that it might also take the side of civic rebellion and protest in Russia.

And her thoughts on the message being sent by the trial:

I now have mixed feelings about this trial. On the one hand, we now expect a guilty verdict. Compared to the judicial machine, we are nobodies, and we have lost. On the other hand, we have won. Now the whole world sees that the criminal case against us has been fabricated. The system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial. Once again, Russia looks different in the eyes of the world from the way Putin tries to present it at daily international meetings. All the steps toward a state governed by the rule of law that he promised have obviously not been made. And his statement that the court in our case will be objective and make a fair decision is another deception of the entire country and the international community. That is all. Thank you.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova/Photo ITAR-TASS (8/8/2012)

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova’s closing statement on 8 August 2012, Khamovnichesky Courthouse, Moscow:

Essentially, it is not three singers from Pussy Riot who are on trial here. If that were the case, what’s happening would be totally insignificant. It is the entire state system of the Russian Federation which is on trial and which, unfortunately for itself, thoroughly enjoys quoting its cruelty towards human beings, its indifference to their honour and dignity, the very worst that has happened in Russian history to date. To my deepest regret, this mock trial is close to the standards of the Stalinist troikas. Thus, we have our investigator, lawyer and judge. And then, what’s more, what all three of them do and say and decide is determined by a political demand for repression. Who is to blame for the performance at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and for our being put on trial after the concert? The authoritarian political system is to blame. What Pussy Riot does is oppositional art or politics that draws upon the forms art has established. In any event, it is a form of civil action in circumstances where basic human rights, civil and political freedoms are suppressed by the corporate state system.

Many people, relentlessly and methodically flayed alive by the destruction of liberties since the turn of the century, have rebelled.

We were looking for authentic genuineness and simplicity and we found them in our punk performances. Passion, openness and naivety are superior to hypocrisy, cunning and a contrived decency that conceals crimes. The state’s leaders stand with saintly expressions in church, but their sins are far greater than ours. We’ve put on our political punk concerts because the Russian state system is dominated by rigidity, closedness and caste. Аnd the policies pursued serve only narrow corporate interests to the extent that even the air of Russia makes us ill.

We are absolutely not happy with—and have been forced into living politically—by the use of coercive, strong-arm measures to handle social processes, a situation in which the most important political institutions are the disciplinary structures of the state – the security agencies, the army, the police, the special forces and the accompanying means of ensuring political stability: prisons, preventive detention and mechanisms to closely control public behaviour. Nor are we happy with the enforced civic passivity of the bulk of the population or the complete domination of executive structures over the legislature and judiciary. Moreover, we are genuinely angered by the fear-based and scandalously low standard of political culture, which is constantly and knowingly maintained by the state system and its accomplices. Look at what Patriarch Kirill has to say: “The Orthodox don’t go to rallies.” We are angered by the appalling weakness of horizontal relationships within society. We don’t like the way in which the state system easily manipulates public opinion through its tight control of the overwhelming majority of media outlets. A perfect example is the unprecedentedly shameless campaign against Pussy Riot, based on distorting facts and words, which has appeared in nearly all the Russian media, apart from the few independent media there are in this political system.

Even so, I can now state—despite the fact that we currently have an authoritarian political situation—that I am seeing this political system collapse to a certain extent when it comes to the three members of Pussy Riot, because what the system was counting on, unfortunately for that system, has not come to pass. Russia as a whole does not condemn us. Every day more and more people believe us and believe in us, and think we should be free rather than behind bars. I can see this from the people I meet. I meet people who represent the system, who work for the relevant agencies. I see people who are in prison [cp. Matthew 25:36: был наг, и вы одели Меня; был болен, и вы посетили Меня; в темнице был, и вы пришли ко Мне]. And every day there are more and more people who support us, who hope for our success and especially for our release, who say our political act was justified. People tell us, “To start with, we weren’t sure you could have done this,” but every day there are more and more people who say, “Time is proving to us that your political gesture was correct. You have exposed the cancer in this political system and dealt a blow to a nest of vipers, [cp. Matthew 12:34: Порождения ехиднины! как вы можете говорить доброе, будучи злы? Ибо от избытка сердца говорят уста; cp. 1 Samuel 24:13: כאשר יאמר משל הקדמני מרשעים יצא רשע וידי לא תהיה־בך׃] which then turned on you.” These people are trying to make life easier for us in whatever way they can and we are very grateful to them for that…

We are grateful to all those who, free themselves, speak out in our support. There are a vast number, I know. I know that a huge number of Orthodox people are standing up for us. They are praying for us outside the courtroom, for the members of Pussy Riot who are incarcerated. We’ve seen the little booklets Orthodox people are handing out with prayers for those in prison. This shows that there isn’t a unified social group of Orthodox believers as the prosecution is endeavouring to say. No such thing exists. More and more believers are starting to defend Pussy Riot. They don’t think what we did deserves even five months in detention, much less the three years in prison the prosecutor would like. And every day, more and more people realize that if this political system has ganged up to this extent against three girls for a 30-second performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, it means the system is afraid of the truth and afraid of our sincerity and directness. We haven’t dissembled, not for a second, not for a minute during this trial, but the other side is dissembling too much and people can sense it. People can sense the truth. Truth really does have some kind of ontological, existential superiority over lies and this is written in the Bible, in the Old Testament in particular. In the end, the ways of truth always triumph over the ways of wickedness, guile and lies. And with each day that passes, the ways of truth are more and more triumphant even though we are still behind bars and are likely to be here a lot longer yet.

Madonna in Russia with Pussy Riot on her back

Madonna performed yesterday (7 August 2012). She appeared with Pussy Riot written on her back. More and more people can see that we are being held here unlawfully and on a completely false charge – I’m overwhelmed by this. I am overwhelmed that truth really does triumph over lies [Matthew 13: 37-42: Он же сказал им в ответ: сеющий доброе семя есть Сын Человеческий; 38 поле есть мир; доброе семя, это сыны Царствия, а плевелы– сыны лукавого; 39 враг, посеявший их, есть диавол; жатва есть кончина века, а жнецы суть Ангелы. 40 Посему как собирают плевелы и огнем сжигают, так будет при кончине века сего: 41 пошлет Сын Человеческий Ангелов Своих, и соберут из Царства Его все соблазны и делающих беззаконие, 42 и ввергнут их в печь огненную; там будет плач и скрежет зубов;] even though physically we are here in a cage. We are freer than the people sitting opposite us for the prosecution because we can say everything we like, and we do, but those people sitting there say only what political censorship allows them to say. They can’t speak words like “punk prayer” or “Virgin Mary, Banish Putin!” They can’t say the lines from our punk prayer that have to do with the political system. Perhaps they think it wouldn’t be a bad thing to send us to jail because we are rising up against Putin and his system as well but they can’t say so because that’s not allowed either. Their mouths are sewn shut. Unfortunately, they are mere puppets. I hope they realize this and also take the road to freedom, truth and sincerity because these are superior to stasis, contrived decency and hypocrisy. Stasis and the search for truth are always in opposition to one another and, in this case, at this trial, we can see people who are trying to find the truth and people who are trying to enslave those who want to find the truth.

Humans are beings who always make mistakes. They are not perfect. They strive for wisdom but never actually have it. That’s precisely why philosophy came into being, precisely because philosophers are people who love wisdom and strive for it, but never actually possesses it and it is what makes them act and think and, ultimately, to live the way they do. This is what made us go into the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, and I think that Christianity, as I’ve understood it from studying the Old and New Testaments, supports the search for truth [John 8:32] and a constant overcoming of the self, overcoming what you used to be. Christ didn’t associate with prostitutes for nothing [Matthew 21:31]. He said, ‘I help those who have gone astray and forgive them’ but for some reason I can’t see any of that at our trial, which is taking place under the banner of Christianity. I think the prosecutor is defying Christianity. The lawyer wants nothing to do with the injured parties. Here’s how I understand this: Two days ago, Lawyer Taratukhin made a speech in which he wanted everyone to understand that he had no sympathy with the people he is representing. This means he’s not ethically comfortable representing people who want to send the three members of Pussy Riot to jail. Why they want to do this, I don’t know. Perhaps it is their right. The lawyer was embarrassed, the shouts of “Shame! Executioners!” had got to him, which goes to show that truth and goodness always triumph over lies and evil.

I think some higher powers are guiding the speeches of the lawyers for the other side when, time after time, they make mistakes in what they say and call us the “injured parties”. Almost all the lawyers are doing it, including Lawyer Pavlova who is very negatively disposed towards us. Nevertheless, some higher powers are causing her to say “the injured parties” about us rather than the people she’s defending, us. I wouldn’t give people labels [Matthew 7:1, cp. Acts 10:34]. I don’t think there are winners or losers here, injured parties or accused. We just need to make contact, to establish a dialogue and a joint search for truth, to seek wisdom together, to be philosophers together, rather than stigmatizing and labelling people. This is one of the worst things people can do and Christ condemned it.

Vladimir Putin KGB

We have been subjected to abuse during this trial. Who would have thought that a person and the state system he [Vladimir Putin] controls would be repeatedly capable of entirely wanton evil? Who would have thought that history and Stalin’s Great Terror, in particular, not so very long ago, would not be taught at all? It makes you want to weep to see how the methods of the medieval inquisition are brought out by the law-enforcement and judicial system of the Russian Federation, which is our country. Since the time of our arrest, however, we can no longer weep. We’ve forgotten how to cry. At our punk concerts we used to shout as best we could about the iniquities of the authorities and now we’ve been robbed of our voice.

This whole trial refuses to hear us and I mean hear us, which involves understanding and, moreover, thinking. I think every individual wants to attain wisdom, to be a philosopher, not just people who happen to have studied philosophy. That’s nothing. Formal education is nothing in itself and Lawyer Pavlova is constantly accusing us of not being sufficiently well-educated. I think though that the most important thing is the desire to know and to understand, and that’s something people can do for themselves outside of educational establishments, and the trappings of academic degrees don’t mean anything in this instance. Someone can have a vast fund of knowledge and for all that not be human. Pythagoras [sic: it was Heraclitis in 500 BCE at B40 and B140, cp. B116; Heraclitis rejected polumathiê or information-gathering on the grounds that it “does not teach understanding”; ref. Clement, Miscellanies (5.140.5) said that ‘the learning of many things does not teach understanding’]. Unfortunately, that’s something we are forced to observe here. It’s just a stage setting and bits of the natural world, bodies brought into the courtroom. If, after many days of asking, talking and doing battle our petitions are examined, they are inevitably rejected.

The court, on the other hand—and unfortunately for us and for our country—listens to the prosecutor who repeatedly distorts our comments and statements with impunity in a bid to neutralize them. There is no attempt to conceal this breach in an adversarial system. It even appears to be for show. On 30th July, the first day of the trial, we presented our response to the accusations. Prior to that we were in prison, in confinement. We can’t do anything there. We can’t make statements. We can’t make films. We don’t have the internet in there. We can’t even give our lawyer a bit of paper because that’s banned too. Our first chance to speak came on 30th July. The document we’d written was read out by defence lawyer Volkov because the court refused outright to let the defendants speak. We called for contact and dialogue rather than conflict and opposition. We reached out a hand to those who, for some reason, assume we are their enemies. In response they laughed at us and spat in our outstretched hands. “You’re disingenuous,” they told us. But they needn’t have bothered. Don’t judge others by your own standards. We were always sincere in what we said, saying exactly what we thought, out of childish naïvety, sure, but we don’t regret anything we said, even on that day. We are reviled but we do not intend to speak evil in return [James 4:11]. We are in desperate straits but do not despair. We are persecuted but not forsaken [2 Corinthians 4:9]. It’s easy to humiliate and crush people who are open, but when I am weak, then I am strong [2 Corinthians 12:10].

Listen to us rather than to Arkady Mamontov talking about us. Don’t twist and distort everything we say. Let us enter into dialogue and contact with the country, which is ours too, not just Putin’s and the Patriarch’s. Like Solzhenitsyn, I believe that in the end, words will crush concrete. Solzhenitsyn [Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn [Александр Исаевич Солженицын] (11 December 1918 – 3 August 2008, won the Nobel prize in Literature in 1970 and exiled from Russia in 1974)] wrote, “the word is more sincere than concrete, so words are not trifles. Once noble people mobilize, their words will crush concrete.” [The quotation is a paraphrase from Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel speech.]

Katya, Masha and I are in jail but I don’t consider that we’ve been defeated. Just as the dissidents weren’t defeated. [cp. Солженицын, Александр Исаевич (1968). В первом кругу /V pervom krugu {The First Circle}. London : Flegon Press; in Russian] When they disappeared into psychiatric hospitals and prisons, they passed judgement on the country. The era’s art of creating an image knew no winners or losers. The Oberiu poets remained artists to the very end, something impossible to explain or understand since they were purged in 1937. Vvedensky [Aleksandr Ivanovich Vvedenskiĭ, died December 20, 1941] wrote: “We like what can’t be understood, What can’t be explained is our friend” [cp. Бродский, Александр Иванович      (2006). Александр Иванович Введенский и и его философская эпоха : к 150-летию со дня рождения. Изд-во С.-Петербургского университета; in Russian].  According to the official report, Aleksandr Vvedensky died on 20 December 1941. We don’t know the cause, whether it was dysentery in the train after his arrest or a bullet from a guard. It was somewhere on the railway line between Voronezh and Kazan. Pussy Riot are Vvedensky’s disciples and his heirs. His principle of ‘bad rhythm’ is our own. He wrote: “It happens that two rhythms will come into your head, a good one and a bad one and I choose the bad one. It will be the right one.” What can’t be explained is our friend. The elitist, sophisticated occupations of the Oberiu [ОБэРИу – Объединение реального искусства translates as

“Theaterproject” centered around Russian writer Daniil Kharms arrested and killed by the KGB in 1942 for “aburdist writing”.

The Union of Real Art and is considered the link between the old avant garde and the new avant garde, who became notorious for provocative performances which included circus-like stunts, readings of what was perceived as nonsensical verse; the group included Daniil Kharms {1905-1942; his message was “go and let us stop progress}, Alexander Vvedensky, Nikolay Zabolotsky, Konstantin Vaginov, Igor Bakhterev, and others {cf. Jaccard, Jean-Philippe (1991). Daniil Kharms et la fin de l ‘avant-garde russe. Bern: Peter Lang, and Jaccard, Jean-Philippe (1985). “De la realite au texte: l’absurde chez Daniil Harms”, Cahiers du monde russe et sovietique, Vol. 27,  pp. 269-312}] poets, their search for meaning on the edge of sense was ultimately realized at the cost of their lives, swept away in the senseless Great Terror that’s impossible to explain. At the cost of their own lives, the Oberiu poets unintentionally demonstrated that the feeling of meaninglessness and analogy, like a pain in the backside, was correct, but at the same time led art into the realm of history. The cost of taking part in creating history is always staggeringly high for people. But that taking part is the very spice of human life. Being poor while bestowing riches on many, having nothing but possessing everything. It is believed that the OBERIU dissidents are dead, but they live on. They are persecuted but they do not die.

Do you remember why the young Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky [Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский; 11 November 1821 – 9 February 1881] was given the death sentence? All he had done was to spend all his time with Socialists—and at the Friday meetings of a friendly circle of free thinkers at Petrushevsky’s, he became acquainted with Charles Fourier and George Sand. At one of the last meetings, he read out Gogol’s letter to Belinsky, which was packed, according to the court, and I note, with childish expressions against the Orthodox Church and the supreme authorities. After all his preparations for the death penalty and ten dreadful, impossibly frightening minutes waiting to die, as Dostoyevsky himself put it, the announcement came that his sentence had been commuted to four years hard labour followed by [sic: in]  military service.

Socrates was accused of corrupting youth [Plato. Apology, 23c, and 32c; Xenophon. Memorabilia, 1.2.29–38] through his philosophical discourses and of not recognizing the gods of Athens. Socrates had a connection to a divine inner voice and was by no means a theomachist, something he often said himself. What did that matter, however, when he had angered the city with his critical, dialectical and unprejudiced thinking? Socrates was sentenced to death and, refusing to run away, although he was given that option, he drank down a cup of poison in cold blood, hemlock.

Have you forgotten the circumstances under which Stephen, follower of the Apostles, ended his earthly life? “Then they secretly induced men to say, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.’  [Acts 6:11]And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and dragged him away, and brought him before the Council. And they put forward false witnesses who said, ‘This man incessantly speaks against this holy place, and the Law.’” He was found guilty and stoned to death. [Acts 6:11-15 and 7:57-59; the Russian reads: Тогда научили они некоторых сказать: мы слышали, как он говорил хульные слова на Моисея и на Бога. 12 И возбудили народ и старейшин и книжников и, напав, схватили его и повели в синедрион. 13 И представили ложных свидетелей, которые говорили: этот человек не перестает говорить хульные слова на святое место сие и на закон. 14 Ибо мы слышали, как он говорил, что Иисус Назорей разрушит место сие и переменит обычаи, которые передал нам Моисей. 15 И все, сидящие в синедрионе, смотря на него, видели лице его, как лице Ангела. and  7:57-59 are: Но они, закричав громким голосом, затыкали уши свои, и единодушно устремились на него, 58 и, выведя за город, стали побивать его камнями. Свидетели же положили свои одежды у ног юноши, именем Савла, 59 и побивали камнями Стефана, который молился и говорил: Господи Иисусе! приими дух мой].

And I hope everyone remembers what the Jews said to Jesus: “We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy” [John 10:33].  And finally it would be well worth remembering this description of Christ: “He is possessed of a demon and out of his mind” [John 10:20].

Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev

I believe that if leaders, tsars, elders, presidents and prime ministers, the people and the judges really understood what “I desire mercy not sacrifice” [Matthew 9:13] meant, they would not condemn the innocent [Psalm 94:21 and Exodus 23:7]. Our leaders are currently in a hurry only to condemn and not at all to show mercy. Incidentally, we thank Dmitry Anatolievich Medvedev [Дмитрий Анатольевич Медведев, born September 14, 1965] for his latest wonderful aphorism. If Medvedev gave his presidency the slogan: “Freedom is better than non-freedom”, then, thanks to Medvedev’s felicitous saying, Putin’s third term has a good chance of being known by a new aphorism: “Prison is better than stoning.”

I would like you to think carefully about the following reflection by [Michel de] Montaigne [1533-1592] from his Essays [Essais;] written in the 16th century [1575; I am using the “new edition” in my private library dated 1595, with the imprint: Paris, A. L’Angelier]. He wrote: “You are holding your opinions in too high a regard if you burn people alive for them.” Is it worth accusing people and putting them in jail on the basis of totally unfounded conjectures by the prosecution?

Since in actual fact we never were, and are not, motivated by religious hatred and hostility, there is nothing left for our accusers other than to draw on the aid of false witnesses [Acts 6:13 cp. Exodus  20:16, 23:1-2]. One of them, Motilda Ivashchenko, was ashamed and didn’t show up in court. That left the false witness of the expert examination by [Vsevolod] Troitsky, [Igor] Ponkin and Mrs [Vera] Abramenkova. And there is no evidence of any hatred or enmity on our part other than this expert examination. For this reason, if it is honourable and just, the court must rule the evidence inadmissible because it is not a strictly scientific or objective text but a filthy, lying bit of paper from the medieval days of the inquisition. There is no other evidence that remotely hints at a motive.

The prosecution is reluctant to produce excerpts from the text of Pussy Riot interviews because they are primary evidence of this lack of motive. For the umpteenth time, I will quote this excerpt. I think it’s important. It was from an interview with “Russky Reporter”, given the day after the concert at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour: “Our attitude toward religion, and toward Orthodoxy in particular, is one of respect, and for this very reason we are distressed that the great and luminous Christian philosophy is being used so shabbily. We are very angry that something beautiful is being spoiled.” It still makes us angry and we find it very painful to watch.

The lack on our part of any show of hatred or enmity has been attested by all the witnesses examined by the defence. And by the evidence of our characters. In addition to all the other character statements, I’d like you to consider the findings of the psychiatric and psychological tests the investigator ordered me to undergo in detention. The expert’s findings were as follows: the values to which I am committed in my life are justice, mutual respect, humanity, equality and freedom. That’s what the expert said, someone who doesn’t know me and Investigator Ranchenko would probably have very much liked him to write something different. It would appear, however, that there are more people who live and value the truth, and the Bible’s right about that.

Finally, I’d like to quote a Pussy Riot song because, strange as it may seem, all our songs have turned out to be prophetic, including the one that says: “The KGB chief, their number one saint, will escort protestors off to jail” – that’s us. What I’d like to quote now, however, is the next line: “Open the doors, off with the shoulder-straps, join us in a taste of freedom.”

Church apologizes for airbrushing Patriarch Kirill’s watch

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova showed herself not only more knowledgeable of scripture than the pandering pimp Patriarch Kirill and his penchant for $35,000 watches, yachts, cars, and prostitutes he shares with Putin, but an indepth knowledge of Russian and European literature.  Kirill keeps the masses poor worse than his predecessors under the Tsars that deliberately starved the people throughtout the empire so that he could sell the food abroad. She is aware of Russian law and is closely familiar with Russian history and how the secret spies in the government and the Russian Orthodox Church trample on human rights and civil freedom.

When Judge Marina Syrova said she would announce the verdict on August 17 for Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23; Maria Alekhina, 24; and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, Russia already knew the verdict. It would be the same as it had been under the unwholesome Romanovs and the Roman Orthodox Church when mo one would dare to divide church and state.

3 Comments

Filed under Christian Terrorists, Church history, separation of church and state

3 responses to “Pussy Riot, Vladmir Putin, Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Kirill

  1. Pingback: Rape, Incest, Rep. Steven King (R-IA) and abortion | Arthur Frederick Ide's Blog

  2. Pingback: UNO Secular Student Alliance and Scott Voorhees attack on women and love of “fellow racists and extremists” | Arthur Frederick Ide's Blog

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