Pussy Riot convicted: Britain rails against “disproportionate” sentence - hypocritically

Pussy Riot convicted: Britain rails against “disproportionate” sentence - hypocritically

The UK also has no qualms over disproportionate sentencing or criminal sanctions for occupational protest.

Three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot have been sentenced to two years of imprisonment in a penal colony, following a protest-performance in a Russian Orthodox church. Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, were all arrested after a video of the performance, which was interrupted by security, was posted online.

The clearly politically-motivated trial has attracted a great deal of international attention, as well as galvanising protest inside Russia. Solidarity protests have been held in front of the court (which saw Gary Kasparov, among others, being arrested), and at Russian embassies. Amnesty international has classified the group as “prisoners of conscience”.

The severity of their sentence for hooliganism aggravated by religious hatred has led to condemnations from a number of countries, including the US, Sweden and Germany. British foreign office minister Alistair Burt joined in, adding “I am deeply concerned by the sentencing of three members of the band Pussy Riot, which can only be considered a disproportionate response to an expression of political belief … Today's verdict calls into question Russia's commitment to protect these fundamental rights and freedoms.”

Britain of course is not above “disproportionate” sentences for political activity. Anti-cuts protester Omar Ibrahim was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for picking up a joke-shop smoke bomb from the pavement during last march's anti-cuts demonstration an tossing it towards Topshop. No-one was harmed, but he was imprisoned for violent disorder.

Protesters committing the exact same “crime” as Pussy Riot – entering a property and protesting, in this case at Fortnum and Mason's – were arrested (after being told be the police that they wouldn't be if they left without a fuss), charged, and in the case of a number of defendants, convicted of aggravated trespass.

More recently, British anarchists returning from the St. Imier congress were detained by anti-terror police on the basis of their politics.

“Disproportion” in sentencing was also a very deliberate policy following last summer's riots.

Two men were jailed for four years for posting pages on facebook encouraging riots. One, Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, posted a page while drunk encouraging rioting, removed it and apologised when he woke up the next morning. No rioting took place. PM David Cameron defended the severity of the sentence.

Similarly, one man in Manchester, Anderson Fernandes, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for walking through the open door of an ice cream shop during the riots and taking one lick of ice cream.

Another North – West case was that of Stephen Carter, who picked up a bag of clothes he found in bushes in Salford. As these had been previously been looted, he was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

Such sentences are accepted to be enormous by western standards for public order offences.

The hypocrisy becomes even more galling when we consider the ongoing US practice of indefinite detention without trial, and European collusion in the rendition of terror suspects.

In the case of the US, UK, EU and other European countries, such criticism is much more likely motivated by geopolitical concerns than anything else.

Posted By

Django
Aug 18 2012 08:55

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Spikymike
Aug 31 2012 16:02

The article in the CWO website regarding the Pussy Riot trial and the situation in Russia seems to present a more sympathetic, if still critical, approach to that posted by their member Android and is a useful read:
http://leftcom.org/en/articles/2012-08-25/no-pussy-footing-with-putin

Steven.
Sep 2 2012 21:56

On a related note, this is quite possibly the most ridiculous article about Pussy Riot, by radical feminists who start off by saying that Pussy Riot is a sexist name and end up calling the men in Voina "sexual abus[ing]" "fascists" and "police". In a way which I actually think is totally sexist, as a completely denies the women in Voina any agency whatsoever, portraying them as passive victims when this is quite clearly not the case.

Later on it gets even more ridiculous, claiming that "sexual violence" is "pandemic" in "most" "leftist or anarchist activist groups", and then concludes with the amazing sentence beginning "The weapon of mass destruction against women is the penis". Seriously, I cannot believe people like this still exist:
http://radicalhub.com/2012/08/20/pussy-riot-whose-freedom-whose-riot/

wojtek
Oct 1 2012 04:32

This radio programme is on today at 8pm if anyone would like to tune in:

Quote:
The prison sentences given to three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot have been widely criticized in the West. But why did the three young women stage their anti-Putin protest in a cathedral? And why did their'punk prayer arouse such fierce reactions?

The case - which some have called "the defining act of a generation" has underlined the growing militancy of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Putin era. Some say the Church's political influence may be greater today than at any time since the 17th century. The affair has caused a deep rift in society - some say the Church is an anchor of Russian identity; others see it as a formidable impediment to the country's modernisation...

BBC Radio 4: Putin, the Patriarch and Pussy Riot