Of Putin and Punks

Wall Street Journal

Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin has become expert at using the power of the courts to break opponents and crush political dissent. In the latest episode, the three young women of the “Pussy Riot” punk band were sentenced Friday to two years in prison for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.”

The women were arrested in March for performing an anti-Putin stunt inside the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, where they beseeched “Virgin Mary, drive away drive away Putin!” The clips went viral on YouTube, which is what really must have irked the Kremlin.

Following the method of Putin justice, the court barred much defense testimony, though it allowed prosecution witnesses who had not been at the cathedral. The judge on Friday took more than three hours to read the verdict, which included detailed descriptions of the shape of the defendants’ heads. According to the live-tweets of reporter Simon Shuster, the judge also noted their “mixed psychological disorders” that include “individualism, stubborn expression of opinions, unwillingness to cede positions.”

The proceedings were no less farcical than those that have kept oil tycoon and Putin opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky behind bars since 2003. And the trial follows the recent indictment of Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption blogger and lawyer, on charges of embezzling money from a state company. Mr. Navalny faces between five and 10 years in prison, though the charges against him were investigated and dropped twice by regional prosecutors. He has become a Putin target because his writings are a focal point for the growing protests against the authoritarian regime.

While Mr. Navalny has received little attention in the West, the plight of “Pussy Riot” seems to have caught the attention of the world’s cultural left and Hollywood. Perhaps Madonna and the Red Hot Chili Peppers will have better luck than the rest of us persuading the Obama Administration to drop its one-way rapprochement with Moscow. On Friday, the U.S. said only that it was “disappointed” with the “disproportionate” sentences.

Our contributor and chess champion Garry Kasparov was one of those arrested Friday as he tried to attend the “Pussy Riot” trial. As he writes nearby, the Kremlin will dismiss Western media criticism but does care about challenges to its power. The U.S. Congress can best respond to Mr. Putin’s continuing crackdown on dissent by passing the Magnitsky Act as part of a bill to normalize trade with Russia. The provision would sanction Russian human rights abusers and bar them from traveling to the U.S.

To reporters outside the courthouse, the husband of defendant Nadezhda Tolokonnikova put it this way: The “only thing that can save our daughter, my wife and all of us, is a revolution. So that’s what we’ll have.” They deserve U.S. support. займ на карту срочно без отказа срочный займ https://zp-pdl.com/online-payday-loans-in-america.php https://zp-pdl.com/best-payday-loans.php hairy girl

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