Tuesday, July 10, 2012

541 Putin demonized over Pussy Riot, but Assange & Manning treated much worse - Paul Craig Roberts

Putin demonized over Pussy Riot, but Assange & Manning treated much worse - Paul Craig Roberts

(1) Pussy Riot affair exposes Putin as a neo-czarist - Shlomo Avineri in Haaretz
(2) Russia's "Pussy Riot" Stunt Supported by US State Department
(3) Amnesty International campaigns for Pussy Riot
(4) Western politicians and Greens back Pussy Riot
(5) Former New York  Mayor Ed Koch endorses hooliganism verdict against Pussy Riot
(6) European Parliament calling for an assets freeze and travel ban on Putin over Pussy Riot
(7) Western Leaders cut Russia ties over Pussy Riot
(8) Putin demonized over Pussy Riot, but Assange & Manning treated much worse - Paul Craig Roberts

(1) Pussy Riot affair exposes Putin as a neo-czarist - Shlomo Avineri in Haaretz

Pussy Riot affair a litmus test of Putin's neo-czarist regime - Shlomo Avineri in Haaretz


Why the Pussy Riot affair may become the litmus test of Putin's neo-czarist regime

Pussy Riot's musical rampage is the latest manifestation of the tumultuous relationship of Russia's civil society with the regime, writes political scientist Prof. Shlomo Avineri.

By Shlomo Avineri

Haretz, August 26, 2012

It is no wonder that the arrest and trial of the Russian Pussy Riot singers have garnered so much more attention and sympathy in the West than many of President Vladimir Putin's other opponents. After all, these three female vocalists are young, likable and also very Western. What's more, rock is the popular music of the people - and Putin, meanwhile, is perceived as stomping out the last shreds of freedom of...

The full text is available for subscribers & registered users.

(2) Russia's "Pussy Riot" Stunt Supported by US State Department


by Tony Cartalucci

Global Research, August 18, 2012
landdestroyer.blogspot.com - 2012-08-17

America's troupe of "activists" continue attempts to divide and undermine Russian society. 

When the US is overtly backing the terrorist invasion of Syria, seeing to the death, displacement, and disruption of millions of lives abroad, while hosting a mass murdering fugitive dictator at home, what then is it to back an act of hooliganism in a Russian church targeting a geopolitical rival?

The US State Department-backed so-called "punk band" going by the name of "Pussy Riot," stormed into a Moscow church, defaming the Russian government while mocking the beliefs of churchgoers with vulgarity and disruptive behavior. Marketed as an act of "freedom of expression" by the Western media and the West's collection of foreign ministries, it was in reality what would be called both a hate-crime and disorderly conduct in the West. Furthermore, in the West, such an act would come with it steep fines and lengthy jail sentences.

In fact, similar cases have played out in the West - minus the feigned indignation over the perceived violation of free speech of alleged bigots, racists, and hooligans that have preceded "Pussy Riot." In many cases, the West has actively pursued not only people harassing others and creating public disturbances, but also those distributing material to like minded people who's beliefs are simply perceived as "socially harmful." 

The West Has Jailed Many For Similar or Lesser Offenses

3 Years in Jail for Revising History: In 2006, the BBC reported, "British historian David Irving has been found guilty in Vienna of denying the Holocaust of European Jewry and sentenced to three years in prison." The BBC also reported, "the judge in his 2000 libel trial declared him "an active Holocaust denier... anti-Semitic and racist."" Irving's beliefs, as unpopular as they may be, were expressed in his writings and speeches, not in the middle of a synagogue he had burst into. 

4 Years and 2 Years in Jail for Operating "Racist" Website: For the crime of operating a US-based "racist" website and possessing with intent to distribute "racist material," two British men, Simon Sheppard and Stephen Whittle were sentenced to 4 years and 2 years respectively in the UK in 2009. The presiding judge, according to the BBC, "told the men their material was "abusive and insulting" and had the potential to cause "grave social harm."" Unlike Pussy Riot, however, these 2 men only crammed their leaflets into the door of a synagogue - instead of bursting in. Still they received 3-4 years in prison.   

5 Years in Jail for Disagreeing With Mainstream History: Also in 2009, a man was jailed for 5 years for "propagating Nazi ideas and Holocaust denial" in Austria, Reuters reported. Gerd Honsik apparently wrote books and magazines which he attempted to distribute in schools, though it was the content of the material, not the manner in which he tried to distribute it that earned him his lengthy jail sentence. Unpopular though his ideas may be, according to the latest tirade by the West, he not only should've been allowed to proclaim them publicly, but do so in a place of worship amongst those he despised.    

3 Years in Jail for Harassing a Jewish Man and Public Hate Speech: In 2011, an Australian man posted an "anti-Semitic" video on YouTube earning him a 3 year jail sentence. The video apparently showed the convicted man insulting a Jewish man before going on a tirade "in front of the Perth Bell Tower," reported ABC of Australia. Clearly insulting someone in Australia and creating a public disturbance is a punishable crime, yet somehow the Australian government sees insulting churchgoers in Russia as "freedom of expression." Equally as clear, is that hypocrisy and selective principles are being liberally exercised.

Detainment for "Hateful" Public Disturbance: This year, the British Daily Mail reported in their article, "Elmo in cuffs: Man dressed as Sesame Street character is carried away in Central Park after anti-Semitic rant in front of kids," that "the appearance of a hate-spewing man dressed up as Elmo was a jarring one for many New Yorkers who visited Central Park on Sunday afternoon." The article elaborated by saying that though the man was put in handcuffs and taken away, he was not arrested. While no arrest or sentence was handed down, the story clearly indicates that there is a line drawn as to what is "freedom of speech" and what is "disturbing the peace" in the United States. 

Arrested for Aggravating "religious and racial" Facebook Comments:  For the crime of posting "anti-Semitic" remarks on Facebook, the BBC reported that "five men and a 15-year-old youth" were arrested in May, 2012. The BBC would elaborate by reporting, "the six people arrested were charged with a breach of the peace with religious and racial aggravations."

Politically-Motivated Hypocrisy and Proxy Poseurs

Regardless of what one's beliefs may be on "freedom of expression" and what lines if any exist between responsible and irresponsible use of this freedom, one cannot ignore the astounding hypocrisy exhibited by the West - now wringing their hands in feigned disapproval over the jailing of "Pussy Riot" while their jails are full of "hate speech" perpetrators - many of whom did not even specifically target or disturb the subjects of their perceived scorn.

(3) Amnesty International campaigns for Pussy Riot


Bloomberg News

Jailed Pussy Riot Trio Gets Fundraiser, Show in Chelsea

By Katya Kazakina on August 22, 2012

The three Pussy Riot members who were sentenced to two years in prison last week will become the centerpiece of a Sept. 10 pop-up exhibition and fundraiser in New York backed by Amnesty International.

Five videos of the group -- which comprises not only those arrested but other performance artists -- will be shown at Lombard-Freid Projects in Chelsea in a show called “Pussy Riot.” ...

(4) Western politicians and Greens back Pussy Riot


Russia condemned over Pussy Riot jailing


August 18, 2012

The US has led global condemnation of the two-year prison sentences given to Russian punk band Pussy Riot, as supporters of the women grabbed balaclavas and took to the streets in protest around the world.

The sentences were called "disproportionate" by the US in a criticism echoed by Britain, France and the European Union, which all used the same word in condemning the punishment handed down for the band's "punk prayer" against Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.

"The United States is concerned about both the verdict and the disproportionate sentences ... and the negative impact on freedom of expression in Russia," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

"We urge Russian authorities to review this case and ensure that the right to freedom of expression is upheld."

Band members Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich were each found guilty of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" for their February 21 protest in Moscow's biggest cathedral.

In Britain, Alistair Burt, a junior foreign minister, said he was deeply concerned by Russia's response to "an expression of political belief".

Support for Pussy Riot

Protesters wearing masks take part in an Amnesty International flash mob demonstration in support of Russian punk band Pussy Riot in the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: Reuters

"We have repeatedly called on the Russian authorities to protect human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, and apply the rule of law in a non-discriminatory and proportionate way," Burt said.

"Today's verdict calls into question Russia's commitment to protect these fundamental rights and freedoms."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the sentences "excessively harsh" and chastised Russia for not living up to "the values of European law and democracy".

"Dynamic civil society and politically active citizens are necessary for Russia's modernisation and are not a threat to the country," Merkel said.

In an unusually firm reaction, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton called on Moscow to overturn the punishment.

"This case adds to the recent upsurge in politically motivated intimidation and prosecution of opposition activists in the Russian Federation," Ashton said.

"I expect that this sentence will be reviewed and reversed in line with Russia's international commitments.

Ashton said the case put a "serious question mark over Russia's respect for international obligations of fair, transparent and independent legal process".

French foreign ministry spokesman Vincent Floreani said the transgressions were "minor acts" when compared with the punishment.

Protesters took to the streets in cities around the world including London, Kiev, Barcelona, Sofia, Brussels, Paris and New York.

Many protesters wore bright balaclavas, a tribute to the knitted facemasks Pussy Riot wore at their protest.

A topless feminist with the words "Free Riot" written above her breasts used a chainsaw to cut down a towering wooden cross erected in memory of the victims of Stalin's repression in Ukraine.

Bolstering the protests were appeals from Beatles star Paul McCartney, pop icon Madonna and a 10,000-person petition gathered by Amnesty International attacking Putin's growing crackdown on dissent.


(5) Former New York  Mayor Ed Koch endorses hooliganism verdict against Pussy Riot


Former New York Mayor 'Delighted' By Pussy Riot Verdict

August 25, 2012

The Russian justice system got a show of support this week from an unlikely source -- former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who said the hooliganism verdict handed down last week to Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich was "just and to be applauded."

In a commentary published earlier this week, the 87-year-old former mayor argued Pussy Riot's actions -- performing a "punk prayer" protesting Vladimir Putin in the middle of Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral -- was less a matter of free speech and more a matter of religious hatred.

"The right to free expression is not unlimited and does not mean one can say anything anywhere and at any time," he wrote. And while one might quibble with the severity of the two-year sentence, he added, "I for one am delighted they now punish religious hatred. Aren't you?"

Koch, of course, speaks from a position of personal experience. While still serving as mayor, he was an active witness to one of the most notorious church protests in United States history -- the 1989 demonstration at New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral by the AIDS activist group Act Up.

Koch was sitting in a first-row pew during Sunday Mass as dozens of protesters entered the cathedral to protest the Catholic Church's opposition to condoms and AIDS education. (Thousands more had gathered outside but stopped short of entering the church.) They disrupted the service, chaining themselves to pews and chanting a statement of complaint. One Act Up member went so far as to crush a communion wafer in his hands, throwing the crumbs to the floor in front of a stunned Archbishop Cardinal John O'Connor.

A number of the activists were arrested, but released the same day with only minor penalties.

Nearly a quarter of a century later, it's an outcome that still seems to stick in the ex-mayoral craw.

"So far as I know, no court has [ever] sanctioned them at all," Koch said in an interview this week with CBS New York. "Is this what you call free speech?"

So while many in the West continue to bemoan what they see as disproportionate payback for the Pussy Riot members, the verdict seems to have brought Koch a certain sense of closure.

Pussy Riot "went physically into the church, dancing around the altar, making prayers that were salacious," he said. "In my judgment, that requires punishment…I applaud the Russian justice system that says finally, 'Churches have rights.'" 

-- Daisy Sindelar

(6) European Parliament calling for an assets freeze and travel ban on Putin over Pussy Riot

Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2012 20:10:36 -0400
From: "Luis Morago - Avaaz.org" <avaaz@avaaz.org>
Subject: Pussy Riot is Free. Free Russia


Facing 2 years in jail for singing a song criticizing President Putin in a church, a member of Pussy Riot gestured to the court and said in her show-trial's closing statements, "Despite the fact that we are physically here, we are freer than everyone sitting across from us ... We can say anything we want..."

Russia is steadily slipping into the grip of a new autocracy -- clamping down on public protest, allegedly rigging elections, intimidating media, banning gay rights parades for 100 years, and even beating critics like chess master Garry Kasparov. But many Russian citizens remain defiant, and Pussy Riot's eloquent bravery has galvanized the world's solidarity. Now, our best chance to prove to Putin there is a price to pay for this repression lies with Europe.

The European Parliament is calling for an assets freeze and travel ban on Putin's powerful inner circle who are accused of multiple crimes. Our community is spread across every corner of the world -- if we can push the Europeans to act, it will not only hit Putin's circle hard, as many bank and have homes in Europe, but also counter his anti-Western propaganda, showing him that the whole world is willing to stand up for a free Russia. ...

(7) Western Leaders cut Russia ties over Pussy Riot


By Clara Weiss

25 August 2012

The three singers of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot sentenced last Friday to two years in a penal colony on charges of “hooliganism due to religious hatred” have met with a groundswell of support from Western politicians and media.

The philosophy student Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (22), Greenpeace campaigner Mary Aljochina (24) and the programmer Jelena Samutsewich (30) plus other members of Pussy Riot, a feminist punk band, had sung a brief “punk prayer” criticizing President Vladimir Putin on February 21 in the Christ the Saviour cathedral in Moscow.

Their sentencing, months in custody and eventual draconian punishment are part of the Putin regime's intensifying offensive against the country's liberal opposition. The affair clearly reveals the authoritarian nature of the Russian state. The prosecution of the group is an attack on basic democratic rights, which must be rejected. The support given to the three women by leading western imperialist politicians, however, serves a different purpose. Their statements of support are cynical to the core. There is every reason to believe that similar treatment would be meted out to artists who used comparable means to protest Western governments, none of which can speak as principled defenders of democratic rights. They are all quite prepared to ride roughshod over democratic principles when it serves their reactionary policy objectives.

After the verdict against Pussy Riot, US President Barack Obama declared his disappointment with “disproportionate punishment”. This comes from the president of a country that maintains torture centres around the world and reserves the right to kill anyone it identifies as a “terrorist”, including its own citizens, without trial! More people are incarcerated in the US than any other country in the world. French Minister of Culture Aurélie Filipetti expressed her concern about the state of Russian “artistic freedom”, which is “a feature of the strength of a democracy”. This is from the minister of a government planning to build ghettos for Roma—a measure hardly compatible with the “strength of a democracy.”

On August 17 the French police went so far as to break up a peaceful demonstration against the Pussy Riot judgment in Marseille because the protesters wore colourful masks resembling those worn by the punk band.

The police justified their action by citing the French anti-burqa law, a provision of which forbids not only the burqa, but the wearing of clothing that would mask the face so as to hide someone's identity. The arrest of pro-Pussy Riot protesters has made clear, however, that this law is not only an attack on the democratic rights of people who want to wear a burqa. It is also a legal tool to cr     ack down on demonstrators and limit political freedom.

The British Foreign Ministry also expressed its “deep concern” about the verdict against Pussy Riot. It forgot to mention that that the British state sent 1,300 people to jail for much lesser offences after the social unrest a year ago. The theft of a water bottle or a comment on an internet platform in support of the street protests was enough to land behind bars. The judgments were made in summary proceedings in violation of due process and were clearly politically motivated.

In Germany support for Pussy Riot from official circles has been especially pronounced. In early July, 120 members of the Bundestag authored a letter to the Russian ambassador in Berlin denouncing the trial. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has repeatedly criticized the trial and sentencing.

Even Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke out against “the disproportionately severe sentence”, which “did not accord with the European values ??of rule of law and democracy”. This comes from a head of government who has not the slightest respect for “the rule of law and democracy” when it comes to implementing austerity measures against the resistance of Greek and Spanish workers.

In reality, behind the campaign against the Putin regime in the name of democracy, Western leaders are expressing their discontent with Russia's domestic and foreign policy and seeking to put pressure on the regime.

First, Western politicians and businesses want an opening of the Russian market for foreign investors and deeper attacks on the working class. This is why they broadly support the free market economic agenda of Russia's liberal opposition which dominated last year's protest movement against Putin, and around which Pussy Riot itself was active.

Second, there is a growing divergence between the foreign policy interests of the West and the Putin regime. Moscow opposes Western intervention in Syria and Iran. Together with China, it has blocked two UN resolutions which sought to pave the way for military intervention by western powers in Syria. For decades the Kremlin has been closely associated with the Syrian regime, which, together with Iran, Washington now aims to overthrow.

French, British and German imperialism have all lined up with the United States in the Syria conflict. Their military and financial support for the so-called “rebels”—a combination of Islamic militants, ex-Syrian government officials, and Western intelligence assets—have sparked a civil war which has already cost the lives of tens of thousands and threatens to plunge the region into chaos.

Following its abstention in the Libyan war, German imperialism is no longer prepared to stand on the sidelines when it comes to war in the Middle East. Torn between its traditional political orientation towards the US and its dependence on Russian fuel imports, the German government has clearly lined up alongside the United States in the Syria conflict. It is playing a key role in equipping and training the anti-Assad forces and maintains its own centre for the development of free-market policies in Syria after Assad's fall.

This foreign policy orientation is a major reason why German politicians and media are supporting the Pussy Riot campaign. At the end of July the Süddeutsche Zeitung commented that all attempts by the German government to mediate between Russia and the West had come to nothing, and the “strategic partnership” between Moscow and Berlin now lies buried “beneath the rubble of the Syrian crisis.”

Just a few weeks later the German government's commissioner for Russia, Andreas Schockenhoff, announced that, due to the Pussy Riot affair, Berlin no longer shared a years-long “strategic partnership” with Moscow, but rather merely “aspire to a partnership”.

Schockenhoff also threatened to dissolve the “Petersburg Dialogue”, a forum established in 2001 by Putin and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to focus on German-Russian cooperation on economic and political issues.

(8) Putin demonized over Pussy Riot, but Assange & Manning treated much worse - Paul Craig Roberts

Pussy Riot, The Unfortunate Dupes of Amerikan Hegemony - Paul Craig Roberts


August 22, 2012

My heart goes out to the three Russian women who comprise the Russian rock band, Pussy Riot. They were brutally deceived and used by the Washington-financed NGOs that have infiltrated Russia. Pussy Riot was sent on a mission that was clearly illegal under statutory law.

You have to admire and to appreciate the spunk of the women. But you have to bemoan their gullibility. Washington needed a popular issue with which to demonize the Russian government for standing up to Washington’s intention to destroy Syria, just as Washington destroyed Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, and as Washington intends to destroy Lebanon and Iran.

By intentionally offending religious worshipers–which would be a hate crime in the US and its European, Canadian, and British puppet states–the women violated a statutory Russian law.

Prior to the women’s trial, Russian President Putin expressed his opinion that the women should not be harshly punished. Taking the cue from Putin, the judge gave the women, deceived and betrayed by the amerikan-financed NGOs, two years instead of seven years.

The women were not waterboarded, raped, or forced to sign false confessions, all well-established practices of amerikan “justice.”

The chances were good that after six months Putin would see that the women are released. But, of course, that would not serve the propaganda of the Amerikan Empire. The instructions to the Washington-financed fifth column in Russia will be to make any government leniency for Pussy Riot impossible.

Washington-organized protests, riots, property damage, assaults on state and religious images by Washington’s Russian dupes can make it impossible for Putin to stand up to nationalist opinion and commute the sentences of the Pussy Riot women.

Distrust of the Russian government and dissension within Russia are what Washington wants. As Washington continues to murder vast numbers of people around the globe, Washington will point its finger at the fate of Pussy Riot. The western bought-and-paid-for presstitute media will focus on Russia’s evil, not on the evil of Washington, London, and the EU puppet states who are slaughtering Muslims by the bucket-full.

The disparity between human rights in the west and in the east is astonishing. When a Chinese trouble-maker sought protection from Washington, the Chinese “authoritarian” government allowed the person to leave for America. But when Julian Assange, who, unlike the presstitute western media, actually provides truthful information for the western peoples, was granted political asylum by Ecuador, Great (sic) Britain, bowing to the country’s amerikan master, refused the obligatory free passage from the UK.

The UK government, unlike the Chinese government, doesn’t mind violating international law, because it will be paid buckets of money by Washington for being a pariah state.

As Karl Marx said, money turns everything into a commodity that can be bought and sold: government, honor, morality, the writing of history, legality. Nothing is immune to purchase. This development of capitalism has reached the highest stage in the US and its puppet states, the governments of which sell out the interest of their peoples in order to please Washington and be made rich, like Tony Blair’s $35 million. Sending their citizens to fight for Washington’s empire in distant parts of the world is the service for which the utterly corrupt European politicians are paid. Despite the wondrous entity known as European Democracy, the European and British peoples are unable to do anything about their misuse in Washington’s interest. This is a new form of slavery. If a country is an amerikan ally, its people are amerikan slaves.

The international attention focused on Pussy Riot, an obscure rock group which apparently has no recordings on the market, demonstrates the complicity of the Western media in US propaganda. Pussy Riot is not the Beatles of the 1960s. I doubt that most of the young people demonstrating in favor of Pussy Riot had ever before heard of the group or have any understanding of how they are being manipulated.

There are so many more important issues on which media attention should be focused. There is Bradley Manning’s illegal detention and torture by the US government. Manning has already been in prison without trial for longer than Pussy Riot’s sentence!

What is Manning’s “crime.” No one knows. Washington accuses him of doing his duty under the US Military Code and revealing the war crime of the “thrill killing” of civilians by US military personnel and of releasing documents to WikiLeaks revealing the mendacity of the US government. In other words, Manning is a hero, and so off he is dragged to the torture chamber.

WikiLeaks Julian Assange, accused of posting on the Internet the leaked documents, is confined to the Ecuadorean embassy in London. The British “human rights” regime refuses to abide by international law and allow Assange, who has been granted political asylum by Ecuador, safe passage. Everyone familiar with international law knows that asylum takes precedence over the other legal claims, especially specious ones.

Washington has armed and financed outsiders to destroy Syria and to break the country up into warring factions. Instead of protesting this heinous act by Washington, the world protests the Syrian government for resisting its overthrow by Washington. I don’t think that even George Orwell imagined that the peoples of the world were this utterly stupid.

In “freedom and democracy” amerika, President Obama refuses to obey a federal court order to cease and desist from violating the clear, unambiguous Constitutional rights of US citizens. Instead, the President of the United States defies the court’s order and continues to hold US citizens in indefinite detention, and there is no movement to impeach this tyrant. To the contrary, amerika is presented as the example of democracy to the world.

Where are the protests?

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