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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

May 5, 2014 - 10:58 am

Members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot are coming to Capitol Hill tomorrow morning for a press conference in the halls of Congress.

Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, who served more than a year behind bars for performing an anti-Putin song in an Orthodox church, will be the guests of Helsinki Commission chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and commission member Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.).

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, who will answer questions at a press conference with the lawmakers, are making the rounds in Washington to lobby for “prompt, full, and ongoing implementation” of Cardin’s Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law passed with strong bipartisan support that sanctions human rights offenders in Russia.

Sergei Magnitsky, a tax attorney, had uncovered large-scale fraud and theft within the Russian government. He was held 11 months without trial and died in 2009 — eight days before he would have had to have been released under law. Russian officials say he had a heart attack, but investigations have revealed he was tortured, beaten, and denied medical treatment.

“Pussy Riot is not a rock band, but rather a feminist punk protest group. They do not give concerts, but stage provocative performances in public locations, one of which led to the arrest of Ms. Tolokonnikova and Ms. Alyokhina on charges of hooliganism for which they served two years in prison. After experiencing firsthand the harsh and political nature of Russia’s judicial system, upon their release they immediately focused their advocacy work on those—like Sergei Magnitsky—who suffer and die all too often in Russia’s vast penal system,” Cardin’s office said in an announcement.

Pussy Riot has gotten support from both sides of the aisle, though not always mentioning their name.

“They throw the members of a punk rock band in jail for the crime of being provocative and vulgar and for having the audacity to protest President Putin’s rule,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wrote of the Kremlin in a September Pravda editorial.

“PresO shld attack the ridiculous sentence given punk band members by Commissar Putin jurists. Nothing is wrong w free speech,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) tweeted in his shorthand style in 2012. “I reread PresO condemnation of sentencing of Russian punk group. But he condemn wrong authorities he shld attack commissar Putin the star.”

“I’m going to declaim from articulating their name and leave it to other sources,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in a January speech on Russia.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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OH PLEEZE...I CAN'T believe that these college educated men can't say "Pussy Riot". Can they say "Pussy Cat"...or us that just not PC enough? I say they are the "Pussy" types, for being that damned PC!!
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...over some screwy notion that the church was in cahoots with Putin." It seems more like Putin is "using" the Orthodox Church against Islam to: 1) Keep the Christians on his side. 2) Make it "appear" that he is not an atheist communist. The Church is likely just safe-guarding their interests, lest they be driven underground by Putin & his thugs.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
I hope they leave town as quickly as they breeze in; otherwise, they might ooze into my church and violently desecrate the altar, as is their habit. Nothing says "Look at me! I'm a needy, blasphemous publicity hound!" like Pussy Riot Maybe some of the stink will wear off on Cardin..
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Quick! Someone lock up Bill Clinton!

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/133278470193606011/
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Great. Hopefully they'll be provocative in anti-female mosques in the D.C. area and that'll be the end of PR.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
I see them as rabble rousers, that found a decent cause but revel in being obnoxious.

Wouldn't it be nice if the two democrat congressmen inviting them, as well as all democrats gave the same respect to the tea party, who at least make their points, and protests, without being hooligans.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
They held the adolescent protest that they were busted for in an orthodox church, by desecrating the altar over some screwy notion that the church was in cahoots with Putin.

I'm sure for every Russian that applauded their actions, there are more than a few that were offended at their actions, and thought they got what was coming to them.

We have freedom of speech here, which allows us to say nearly anything we want - but not necessarily anywhere. You are free to hold idiotic protests here, such as burning a flag, but you are also free to pay for that in the courts or through a beating by someone that was offended.

And there are lines that shouldn't be crossed. They crossed a line, and were sent to the gulag as examples to others of where the line is drawn.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
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