Kremlin x Pussy Riot: Girls Win!

Posted August 19th, 2012 at 3:38 pm (UTC+0)
32 comments

The wearing of brightly colored balaclavas, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova told the court, “emphasizes the carnival-like and friendly nature of our performances. We are clowns and we engage in buffoonery. We are kind of crazy. But we do not convey any evil.” Photo: Igor Mukhin


“Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?” – Alexander Pope, 1735

This summer, Vladimir Putin tried to break three of Moscow’s butterflies on the creaking, iron wheel of Russia’s court system.

On Friday, the three Pussy Riot girls were sentenced to two years in jail for singing the wrong song in church.

Stalin’s show trials were scary.

Putin’s show trials are providing a show.

Day after day, the Moscow courtroom provided a stage for three attractive young women, sequestered in windowed box known as the “aquarium.”

As their international celebrity status grew day by day, you could hear the Kremlin’s PR and political strategies backfiring, day by day.

By the end of the trial, it had come to this: editors for Ukrainian Playboy angling for a centerfold photo session with Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a 22-year-old defendant described by the Financial Times as having “Angelina Jolie lips.”

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, age 23, skyrocketed in recent days to international fame after she was unmasked as Pussy Riot girl in the recent trial. Despite protests, like this one in Moscow calling for her ‘Freedom,’ she and two other Pussy Riot defendants were sentenced to two years in jail for their protest inside Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral on Feb. 21. AP Photo:Ivan Sekretarev

Carried on the wings of the internet, the Pussy Riot brand – a brightly colored balaclava — had circled the globe. Solidarity demonstrations ranged from the Mayor of Reykjavik, Iceland dancing on a parade float in a Pussy Riot ski mask to a topless protester posing for photographers while she squirted red ink Thursday on a wall of the Russian Consulate in Sao Paulo.

The trial of three personable young women achieved what 100,000 protesters gathered in Moscow’s Arctic temperatures last February could not: focus world attention on Russia’s authoritarian government.

By Friday, reporters from an estimated 100 Russian and international media outlets gathered at the courthouse for the sentencing. (Since 99 percent of criminal cases in Moscow last year ended in convictions, there was no suspense about the verdict.)

Under this intense glare of international publicity, gleamed a court system that seemed like a lost chapter from Alice in Wonderland.

On their way to sentencing: Pussy Riot members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, center, Maria Alekhina, front, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, are escorted to the court room “aquarium” on Friday to hear the Judge’s verdict and sentence. Photo: AP

First, there was a large police dog in the courtroom that seemed to be trained to bark when the defense lawyers raised objections.

Then there were the prosecutors who embellished the official charge – “hooliganism driven by religious hatred” – with phrases redolent of the Inquisition, such as “blasphemy” and “sacrilege.”

Then there were the court marshals who threw out members of the public for smirking or looking out an open window to where solidarity demonstrations were held. One day, court marshals refused admittance almost all defense witnesses. The judge then declared the witnesses “no shows” and struck them from the witness list.

Mikhail Khordokovsky, the former political rival to Mr. Putin, was tried in the same courtroom two years ago. From his jail cell, he wrote a support letter to the Pussy Riot women: “The word ‘tried’ can only be used here in the sense in which medieval Inquisition used it.”

Tolokonnikova agreed, saying in court: “I do not believe in this court. There is no court. It is an illusion.”

Pussy Riot band stages lightning punk performance on Red Square on January 20 to protest the prospect of six more years of Vladimir Putin leading Russia. Photo: Reuters: Denis Sinyakov

The written statements of several prosecution witnesses contained identical language and same errors of grammar and spelling, prompting the defense to charge that some of the testimony in the 1,800-page court case was “a cut and paste job.”

Lyubov Sokologorskaya, a candle seller at Christ the Savior Cathedral, gave the most gripping prosecution account of the offending punk performance.

“All that looked like a lot of demonic jerking,” she said of the Pussy Riot dance. “They were throwing their legs up, and everything below the waist was visible.”

In reality, as millions of internet viewers can attest, the girls were wearing bright tights below their short skirts. But that is a fashion crime inside a Russian Orthodox church, a contemplative space where women are to wear sober and dark attire, and are to cover their hair, but not their faces.

In one of dozens of Pussy Riot support actions around the globe in recent days, actors hold balloon lips marked “Free Pussy Riot” during recording of a music video by Peaches, a Canadian musician, in Berlin on Aug. 8 , 2012. Photo: AP/Adam Berry

Seven times, the defense asked Judge Marina Syrova to recuse herself. Seven times, she consulted with herself. (One can imagine the debate. Decisions, decisions: August at the dacha? Or August with the smart aleck feminists?) Each time, the judicial side of her brain prevailed, and she stayed on the case.

But stress surfaced at times. Once, when reading “Holy S**t,” the offending lyric the Pussy Riot girls sang in the Cathedral, the Judge interjected: “Shove culture up your (expletive)! We are going to the prosecutors!”

Then there were the defendants, giggling, smirking, and rolling their eyes, as they were guarded by hunky, T-bone shaped Spetsnaz – or Special Forces – police officers.

Security was so tight that when the courthouse was evacuated because of a bomb threat, the three young women were left behind in their courtroom box.

During the break, a man with a gray, Old Testament beard ran up and down the courthouse street, shouting: “Our women are free! Putin’s female slaves are not!”

Trial rules allowed the defendants to address the court. After each statement, the public — and many members of the “independent” press — burst into applause.

“This is not a theater,” Judge Syrova snapped two times. After the third time, she gave up.

When the three women were led out, court attendees jumped to their feet for a standing ovation. This prompted more dog barking.

Outside the courthouse, the trial provided more theatrics.

The Pussy Riot balaclava has circled the globe as a protest symbo. Here actors record the music video of Canadian musician and performance artist Peaches in support of members of the Russian feminist punk group in Berlin. Photo: AP/Adam Berry)

In Moscow, supporters staged readings at local theaters of the Pussy Riot members closing statements. On the day of the verdict, young men pulled Pussy Riot balaclavas over statues in Moscow, snapping photos for the Internet before irate citizens tore them off.

Support came in from a host of international music stars and Hollywood actors — Madonna, Bjork, Paul McCartney, the Pet Shop Boys and Elijah Wood, famous for his role of hobbit Frodo in the fantasy movie “The Lord of the Rings.”

“It’s still hard to believe this is not a dream,” Tolokonnikova wrote last week of the international and Russian support.

A touch of envy could be heard from Russian protesters and artists who for years labored in vain to break through to international recognition.

Valeria, a pop singer, who failed to make that breakthrough, complained: “What’s so great about Pussy Riot that all these international stars should support them?”

Edward Limonov, a veteran opposition leader with a Trotsky-style goatee, lamented Friday about the expected appeals: “The opposition will be moaning and groaning about the fate of the poor, young women. It is a good song, start again: Pussy, Pussy Riot. The dumbest conflict that one could ever think up.”

Way back in March, when snow and ice covered Moscow, Kirill I, the Russian Orthodox Patriarch, called the one-minute punk prayer “blasphemy” and called for prosecutions.

But two of the women have small children. During their five months in jail, they have not seen their children.

By summer, a new anti-clerical sentiment was rising in Russia, especially among younger people. By the time of the trial, 75 percent of Russians were telling pollsters that the church should stay out of politics.

Konstantin Sonin, a Vedemosti newspaper columnist, warned: “The last time the church tarnished its image so badly was when it excommunicated Leo Tolstoy in 1901.”

Georgy Bovt, a political analyst, agreed, arguing in newspaper essay: “By initiating a Middle Ages-style witch hunt against three young women, the Russian Orthodox Church has caused irreparable damage to its reputation in the eyes of the educated class.”

During the eight-day trial, church figures kept a low profile. On Friday, Patriarch Kirill was in Poland, meeting with Catholic leaders. In Moscow, the church asked the state to show mercy to the defendants. But the statement was released Friday evening, after Judge Syrova had sentenced the three women.

The women said they chose the Cathedral because they were angry that Kirill had endorsed Mr. Putin in the March presidential election. Mariya Alyokhina, one of the defendants, said in her pre-sentencing statement: “As representatives of our generation, we are bewildered by his actions and appeals. We wanted and we want a dialogue.”

Russian conservatives were caught snoozing by what initially seemed like a marginal group.

But by early August, Madonna was in Moscow donning a Pussy Riot balaclava and giving a sold out concert with the words “Pussy Riot” written on her back.

U.S. singer Madonna spoke out in favor of freeing the three jailed Pussy Riot performers during her Aug. 7 concert at the Olympic Stadium in Moscow, Russia’s largest enclosed concert venue. Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

Leaders of one conservative group, wearing black T-shirts inscribed “Orthodoxy or Death,” burned posters of Madonna and Pussy Riot for reporters. Their leader said: “We’re going to rip them up and burn them…just like in the Middle Ages.”

Dmitry Rogozin, a Russian Deputy Prime Minister, fired a tweet in Madonna’s direction: “Either take off the cross, or put on your panties.”

Maxim Shevchenko, a conservative TV host, charged that Madonna and other Westerners lie when they say that Pussy Riot is banned in Russia.

“How can the group be prohibited if there is nothing to prohibit in the first place?” he wrote in The Moscow Times. “The band doesn’t have any CDs. They aren’t even musicians. They are publicity-seeking ‘performance artists’ who make their living by creating scandals.”

Before the sentencing, Anastasia Volochkova, a ballerina, wrote on her LiveJournal blog that the three women should be sentenced to cleaning public bathrooms.

To dent the sweet, feminist-next-door image of the Pussy Rioters, conservatives are busy posting links to photos of a 2008 “performance art protest” where Tolokonnikova, then seven months pregnant, participated in an after hours group sex orgy among the stuffed mammals at Moscow’s Biology Museum.

The political message was a protest against official presidential candidate Dmitry Medvedev, whose name derives from the Russian word for ‘bear.’

But, as Pussy Riot defense lawyers prepare for a long series of appeals, in Russia, and at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, Moscow conservatives are making sure this series of “art” photos is going to have an equally long life on the Internet.

Next up for a trial: Garry Kasparov, the former chess champion and current Russian opposition leader.

Former Russian chess master Garry Kasparov was talking to reporters outside the Pussy Riot trial Friday afternoon, when riot police waded into the crowd and dragged him to police van. A policeman claims Kasparov bit his finger. Kasparov says it was probably a police dog. Will this be the pretext for the next Putin show trial? Photo: Reuters

On Friday, he was one of about 100 protesters and onlookers who were arrested outside the Pussy Riot courthouse. Within hours, police charged that he had bitten a police officer on the finger and that an assault inquiry was underway. Conviction could bring a five-year jail sentence.

Kasparov, who has been arrested many times, says he did not bite the policeman. He speculates that a police dog did.

Kasparov’s account of his arrest outside the courthouse ran Saturday in the Wall Street Journal: “When Putin’s Thugs Came for Me.” Last time, I checked it topped the website as “Most Popular” story. Gosh, I had no idea there are so many punks among the Journal’s 2.1 million readers. I thought they were just boring foreign investors.

Presumably that trial would include testimony from Kasparov’s dentist. It is unclear if the defense would call police dogs to the witness stand.

In 21st century Moscow, a Putin show trial is nothing like your grandfather’s show trial.

James Brooke
James Brooke is the Russia/CIS bureau chief for Voice of America. A lifelong journalist, he covered West Africa, Brazil, the American Rocky Mountain States, Canada, and Japan/Korea for The New York Times. A resident of Moscow since 2006, he was first Bloomberg bureau chief for the region. In 2010, he joined VOA. In addition to writing Russia Watch, his weekly blog, he also does video, radio and web reports from Russia and the former USSR.

32 Responses to “Kremlin x Pussy Riot: Girls Win!”

  1. Justice says:

    Communists are fkng jock, liars & shameless SoBs. Look at Russia, China & North Korea.

    • Santos says:

      Communist r liars ? Yeah right. Capitalist r so pure n good with lehman, bear stearn, ltcm n enron.. Lets not forget d european sovereign debt.

      Madonna r true symbol of freedom right ? She calls the shot as has madame clinton
      In libya, yemen, and iraq… Lets not forget more r coming soon..

  2. terry says:

    Looks as though the Russians (under Putin’s guideance) know how to make a mockery and big international show of something so inconsequential as to be almost funny; if not pathetic.And the ridiculous sentences; for something that would merely be considered ‘In bad taste’ in most countries! What a waste of time and effort ……. Oh, well if they want to waste time and effort on such nonsense; but there are much more serious problems to be addressed, in Russia and elsewhere. Russia will never be a great country if this sort of mindless, pointless persecution continues. And it’s high time Russian society wakes up the fact. Good Luck from Canada.

  3. German says:

    Let us imagine them shouting near Buckingham palace asking England to get rid of the Queen.

    Do not remember I saw similar things…

  4. angry says:

    win? what? they should be rotten in jail bitches

  5. Charles Akin says:

    Great Article!

    About Putin… once a KGB agent Always a KGB agent. If he can’t take the heat he should leave the kitchen, not jail his opponents.

  6. [...] 22, Marina Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, were arrested in February …Kremlin x Pussy Riot: Girls Win!Voice of America (blog)Pussy Riot protesters arrested in MarseilleThe GuardianPussy Riot jailed for [...]

  7. [...] Kremlin x Pussy Riot: Girls Win!Voice of America (blog)The wearing of brightly colored balaclavas, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova told the court, “emphasizes the carnival-like and friendly nature of our performances. We are clowns and we engage in buffoonery. We are kind of crazy. But we do not convey any evil.Girls rule this week's edition of Music Power RankingsHitFix (blog)Vlad Putin is afraid of girlsBangkok Post [...]

  8. [...] the original: Kremlin x Pussy Riot: Girls Win! – Voice of America (blog) [...]

  9. Tony says:

    What nonsense. This would of been a “hate-crime” trial in the USA. The sentence would of been the same, if not worse.

    • Bene Sophia says:

      Actually, using current laws (signed by comrade Obama), they could be held indefinitely…without trial and without being charged for any specific crimes. The “land of the free, home of the brave” has become “The land of the oppressed, home of the submissive.” Guantanamo = Amerikan gulag

  10. Vlad Kudelin says:

    Calling police dogs to the stand would be quite appropriate assuming the style of the 1937th trials don’t you think?

  11. Gennady says:

    1. Pussy Riot show Trial once again has focused world attention on the authoritarian rule of Russia and gave strong impression of a lost chapter about absurdity from Alice in Wonderland. The Trial over such trifles wasted time and effort. It gave a textbook example and answer to the most basic question of global economics and politics: why do Russia under Mr.Putin’s tenets has become a failed nation? The kinetics is perfectly illustrated in the bestseller http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Why_Nations_Fail
    2. Every student knows that a nation’s economic success is predominantly determined by its political institutions, inclusive state and democracy, strong independent judicial systems, rule of law (and not absurd show trials), security of property rights. Freedom begets prosperity; nations dominated by self-centred elite fail and are extremely poor.
    a) The brave girls by challenging Putinism helped the world to watch failed court system in action in nowadays Russia.
    b) Putin’s Russia failed to overcome huge economic disparity and fight poverty: with 101 billionaires in Russia in 2011 http://www.abs-bnnews.com/business/12/21/11/russias-wealth-gap-wounds-putin average monthly salary in Russia was 21,000 roubles ($670) in 2011 year. OAP pension is just 200$ a month, below bread-line.
    c) Putin’s Russia failed in science. After Joseph Stalin (greatly admired by Mr.Putin) pronounced words of genetics and cybernetics as blasphemous and executed all Russian pioneers of genetics and cybernetics … in XXI century Russia under Mr. Putin is heavily dependent on import of genetic stock cultures and computers and unable to produce and develop its own.
    d) Putin’s Russia is viewed as a failed BRICS nation and nobody can convincingly explain why it is still among G8 countries. In 2011 more then 80 bln $ capital fled from Russia. It looks as nobody in the world being in sober mind wants to invest in Mr. Putin and views the land as fit just for dumping radioactive waste.
    e) The largest country that once was a pioneer in outer space exploration under Mr. Putin became plagued with incessant string of failures in rocket launches and planet exploration, got into a vicious circle of Plutocracy, with suppression of technological innovation and economic and personal freedoms.
    Russia failed in public education http://www.oecd.org/pisa/ . In 2009 in PISA tests Russia was 38-th in Maths, 39-th in Sciences and 42-th in Reading http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment#2009
    Russia under Mr. Putin has failed public healthcare when rate of death far exceeds rate of birth.

  12. Billy Orbit says:

    Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is 10 times more beautiful than Angelina Jolie. She could be a worldwide top model but has chosen this path. Fascinating…

  13. Lara says:

    There’s no comparison between Russia&the US.You have to live there to understand the things that very often don’t seem what they are.

  14. Mykhayl says:

    Слава Ісу~

    Reactionaries don’t change policy they aggravate civil discontent.
    Machiavellian Controllers are no more Christian Ministers [bishops],
    than Communists are common good monastics.
    There was not so much caring over the Russian Orthodox “Church”
    being used to enslave Ukraine.

  15. Bene Sophia says:

    I just have one comment:
    “allow Julian Assange to leave the UK”
    His oppression is as bad, if not worse than Pussy Riot’s. Only in his case it comes from nations (UK and USA) that “pride” themselves on freedom of expression and freedon of the press…ya right!

  16. Petr Russian says:

    Tolokonnikova is on the right side of this photo: http://apazhe.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/tom-4905.jpg She was pregnant. They named this porno THE ART. The perfomance in the main Russian cathedral is the similar action. The verdict is absolutely correct and correspond to Russian legislation. The girls can become free tomorrow if they would write an appeal for clemency. But they don’t want to. They achieved their goal – World fame, which couldn’t be realized without a reeking scandal. And they understand that they would be forgotten in several days without the prison sentence.

    And I don’t understand this worldwide hysteria.

  17. James Brooke jbrooke says:

    “Blasphemy” existed as a crime in Russia from 1845 to 1885. The punishment was three to eight months in prison. I always thought it would be fun to live in the 1850s. Men — and women – got to wear funny hats, and to dream about progress.

  18. Gennady says:

    To Petr “Russian”

    It looks that you don’t understand more than the worldwide “hysteria”.
    The world has significantly moved on from the moss-covered religious texts of VII century that had been the premise to judge the brave girls.
    It’s no surprise that you know nothing about contemporary world, art, basic human rights, freedom of speech and expression,Rights and Freedoms of Man and Citizen stipulated in articles 17.1, 22.1, 27, 29.1, 29.5, 31, 56.1 of Russian Constitution.
    It’s no wonder that the verdict made the world shudder.
    If Moses could have heard the verdict he would confirm that it hadn’t corresponded to his Ten Commandments.

    • Petr Russian says:

      I don’t know about freedom of making porno in museums and dancing in Cathedrals. It is the false interpretation of freedom. The freedom of speech and expression don’t have to give offence to anything.

      Moreover, giving up the punishment in this case can cause chaos in our country. I don’t want it.

  19. Gennady says:

    To Petr “Russian”

    1. It’s crystal clear that you belong to the FSB/MVD or are paid for such words in your previous comment:”The girls can become free tomorrow if they would write an appeal for clemency. But they don’t want to.”
    2. Even you’ve admitted that the Pussy Riot girls had won by your words:”They achieved their goal – World fame…:.
    3. Neither FSB nor MVD see any difference between eroticism as an art and porno, between idle dances and dances with a political message of tramped basic human rights. You deny that gross violation of basic human rights exists in Putin’s Russia, non-existence of freedom of speech and expression. This atmosphere and outrageous involvement of Patriarch Kirill into political process by constantly advertising Mr. Putin as a “miracle from God” who rectified the crooked path of history” provoked the girls seeking justice. Nobody in sound mind would resort to their venue in the Cathedral provided Rights and Freedoms of Man and Citizen stipulated in articles 17.1, 22.1, 27, 29.1, 29.5, 31, 56.1 of Russian Constitution hadn’t been suspended. So, who provoked the girls to become Martyrs as the world has recognised them?
    4. You approve involvement of church by promoting its candidate (Mr.Putin) into forthcoming election. None country all over the world tolerates churches as proponents of certain presidential hopefuls. You recognised “freedom of speech and expression” just for United Russia party but not to any real alternative candidates when all mass media is gagged, outspoken journalists are assassinated and terrorised.
    5. You approve blatant lawlessness in the staged performance that the court of law has done: “Moreover, giving up the punishment in this case can cause chaos in our country. I don’t want it.” Everywhere in the civilised world the dance that Pussy Riot has done isn’t capital punishment, it is viewed as a bad taste and is just administrative offence, even if to forget what has provoked the brave girls.

    • Petr Russian says:

      1. I’m an experienced energy audit specialist with the extensive knowledge of the energy efficiency legislation, the heat supply and the energy audit procedures.
      2. It is evident. The goal is fame! Not human rights or freedom.
      3.1. Do you want to say that performance “F**k for the successor bear cub (“Medved” child)” is the erotic art? It’s unbelievable.
      3.2. I voted for Putin’s opponents on the last elections. And I see obviously problems which Putin can’t ant don’t want to solve.
      3.3. I think that Putin is better than a revolution. And I’m afraid of authorities is not quite competent to prevent it.
      3.4. Russian Church is also against revolutions. It is obviously. But Putin is not candidate of the Russian orthodoxies. You may be forgot but authorities had given money to Marat Gelman for modern art. Putin’s government had sponsored family plan centers, which had seduced schoolchildren. The list can be continued.
      3.5. All Putin’s opposition leaders are the Eltsin pupils. They were criminal bureaucracy in 1990′s. Why must I believe them? Putin is the spiritual son of Anatoly Sobchak. Ksenia is his material daughter. Where is different?
      3.6. You forgot about the Criminal code. The Constitution doesn’t describe crimes and punishments.
      4.1. Look an 3.4.
      4.2. And you don’t recognized “freedom of speech and expression” for dissident. Why am I FSB employee? Is it argument? It is ravings.
      4.3. “Real alternative candidates” doesn’t exist. Yes, Putin made such situation. But “real alternative candidates” doesn’t exist.
      4.4. Mass media serve to their masters in Russia, the USA, Germany, Iran… Everywhere! I don’t believe that any journalist in the World is absolutely independent.
      5.1. Yes. I’m against the situation when the political protest will replace into the Russian Cathedrals and churches. The justification of P.Riot could say to the inadequate part of the opposition that it was good idea. In addition, if authorities didn’t protect the orthodoxies, the orthodoxies would protect themselves without authorities.
      5.2. Does Suomi belong to the civilized World.
      6. Is it normal that word “piz*a” in English interpretation became usual in the Russian mass media?

  20. [...] Math Is Hard  “Kremlin x Pussy Riot: Girls Win!”–headline, Voice of America website, Aug. 19 [...]

  21. Oleg Khlopob says:

    How can we build up democratic society in Russia with such justice and court? It is a shame for my country. This Pussy Riot political proses has stated once again that Russia is on the back track to the past – in the Middle Ages. We should be more united against authoritarian ruling, otherwise Russia might be lost forever.

  22. Gennady says:

    I completely agree with you, Sir.
    With such contempt and cynicism of the regime, that has stifled Russia,
    it is a humiliation and shame for Russian people to tolerate it any more.
    They made Russian people a laughing stock of the planet.
    People all over the world ask what a bizarre Russians are when they a) have swallowed a swapping of the Presidency between Mrs.Putin & Medvedev, b) stomached the blatantly rigged election, c) watched the farcical trial over nothing. This time the world laughed over the regime.
    Nevertheless Levada centre reports that 60% Russians still approve Mr.Putin, don’t they?
    I wonder what is going on in the heads of those people.
    With Mr Putin in his ever-lastingly presiding over his eight members Politbureau ruling Russia the country is lost forever.
    At least it has passed the point of no return.

    • Oleg Khlopov says:

      Dear Gennady,

      Russian people at least over 50% approve Puitnizm as they see in him stability and hope. But in my view these are the most conservative type that have agreed with the false results of the elections and do not to see any alterative of the current administrative ruling course (because they do not see them at all). The fundamental principles and values in terms of religious orthodox Christian believes are back in face of modern challenges and problems if the ruling political elite can not manage them in proper way. As for as politburo is concerned there are at least two groups – one for the conservative preserved status quo and the other that looks for possible renovation but in the frame of the present course and track. Nevertheless only substation political and economical changes may give a hope for development and future of Russia.

  23. Oleg Khlopov says:

    Dear Gennady,
    Russian people at least over 50% approve Puitnizm as they see in him stability and hope. But in my view these are the most conservative type that have agreed with the false results of the elections and do not to see any alternatives of the current administrative ruling course (because they do not see them at all). The fundamental principles and values in terms of religious orthodox Christian believes are back in face of modern challenges and problems if the ruling political elite can not manage them in proper way. As for as politburo is concerned there are at least two groups – one for the conservative preserved status quo and the other that looks for possible renovation but in the frame of the present course and track. Nevertheless only substation political and economical changes may give a hope for development and future of Russia.

  24. Timothy Dodd says:

    Personally I think Mr. Putin should focus on Muslim extremism expanding globally. As Christians, we’re both on their hit list.
    As for Madonna? Pray for her.

About

About

James Brooke is VOA Moscow bureau chief, covering Russia and the former USSR. With The New York Times, he worked as a foreign correspondent in Africa, Latin America, Canada and Japan/Koreas. He studied Russian in college during the Brezhnev years, first visited Moscow as a reporter during the final months of Gorbachev, and then came back for reporting forays during the Yeltsin and early Putin years. In 2006, he moved to Moscow to report for Bloomberg. He joined VOA in Moscow in 2010. Follow Jim on Twitter @VOA_Moscow.

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