Pussy Riot – Member missing

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“The husband and supporters of a jailed Pussy Riot band member are trying to find her in Russia’s Siberian prison camp system on her 24th birthday. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is being transferred to a different prison but her husband Pyotr Verzilov says he has heard nothing from her for 19 days.” – BBC Website

We could discuss the rights or wrongs about the act that put pussy Riot behind bars and how appropriate or otherwise it was but the real issue surrounding the case is the treatment of the three women by the authorities and the Russian Government since their arrest. While I don’t have an issue with their protest, I can see that many in Russia – not just those in power – were offended by the act. But to punish them in such a medieval way as the Authorities have shows he real lack of humanity that resides in the Russian Government today. Sending her to a penal colony somewhere out in Siberia is not a punishment that matches the action of singing a protest song in a church – it is pure malevolence on the part of the system.

Putin is a real piece of work, something we are all more than aware of with his treatment of his enemies – the BBC did  great article on it earlier this year (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-23343788). From political opponents he wants to silence and by doing so secure his own power to his treatment of the LGTB community by ignoring the attacks, torture and pubic humiliation of gay people in his country; attacking charities trying to help those in Russian society that he and his cronies refuse to, and internationally the death of Alexander Litvinenko on British soil in 2006 by radioactive poisoning this is a man who does not make a good enemy.

Now with Miss Tolokonnikova having been removed from prison where she had been on hunger strike, this is a move to scare her and make her understand the might and reach of the Russian power makers. It is nothing but callous bullying; a cowardly act by a cowardly man who thinks that by having absolute power over everything in his country and everyone who disagrees with him he will become untouchable. The problem for Mr Putin is this is no longer the USSR in a pre-internet age. We are all watching his actions and the way he treats his people – especially those he disagrees with. Miss Tolokonnikova is still missing and has been for nearly three weeks and if anything were to happen to her whilst in custody – and so close to release as well – Putin might find that even his own people don’t stay quiet for very long.

“Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has publicly complained of threats she received from prison officials. We are concerned that she now may be being punished for this and for speaking out about deplorable prison conditions,” said Denis Krivosheev, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director at Amnesty International. Russian authorities must immediately tell her family where she is and allow her access to a lawyer. She is a prisoner of conscience who should have never been taken to jail in the first place. Refusing to say where she is simply fuels rumours of the worse case scenario.” – www.amnesty.org

By removing her from her family and her solicitor they are not only breaking their own laws, but also her Human Rights. I don’t want to over-dramatize the situation in Russia at the moment but there are serious parallels with 1930s Germany happening with the way they are tightening and enforcing laws. Silencing opposition voices, imprisoning those who speak out, subverting the law to attack and remove any foreign company or charity in Russia and the persecution of minorities has been ringing alarm bells for many around the world over the last few years.

Her crime was to speak openly and honestly; to take a stand with her band mates against the methods and attitudes of an archaic egomaniac. She served her time but he needs to embarrass her and pressure her into silence. I sincerely hope that she is found safe and well, because you can guarantee that this will have the opposite effect on Pussy Riot’s supporters. With Amnesty International shining a spotlight on the case and numerous other press and media interest in the treatment of these three women this is a story that will not be silenced. We should add our voices to these causes to ensure that mistakes of the past are not allowed to repeat.

JD

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