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Friday, 17 August 2012

Pussy Riot Are Not Supported by Ordinary Russians

These Pussy Riot women are definitely not political martyrs. The very fact that at first, advised by their lawyers, they even denied having been in the church during the concert shows that: if they were prepared to retract, what courageous political message can that be? In the UK The Times even took that denial seriously.

What will its position after thier admission, wonders in a post's comments Alexander Mercouris, who then adds and clarifies the legal case:
Also by admitting that an offence was committed the girls have confirmed that they are not adopting the defence adopted for them by Amnesty International and their western admirers that they were entitled to do what they did as an exercise of their right of free speech under Article 10(1) of the European Convention of Human Rights. Please note: any such defence of the girls you now read in the western media or on the part of assorted worthies such as Amnesty International, Sting, Madonna, Red Hot Chilli Peppers etc, is not being made by the girls themselves in their defence and never has been. They could not previously make this defence because up to now they were not admitting that they were present in the Cathedral so they could not claim a defence of free speech for actions they were not admitting they ever made. Now that they admit that they were present in the Cathedral the girls are also admitting that what they did was an offence albeit only an administrative offence. This is an admission that they were not entitled to do what they did so the defence that they were entitled to do what they did as an exercise of their right of free speech under Article 10(1) of the European Convention of Human Rights does not apply.

The only defence the girls are now making is the defence of proportionality, that the penalty prescribed under the charge of hooliganism is disproportionate to the offence committed. This is a valid defence and one to which Article 10(2) of the European Convention of Human Rights applies.

Where the defence is one of proportionality this creates the classic situation, as I have argued previously, for a plea bargain in which an admission of guilt and an apology is traded for a lower sentence. If the girls had made their admission and offered a sincere apology right at the start of this case we would have been spared all the nonsense of the last few months. The trial would by now long since be over, a lenient sentence could have been agreed and the girls would almost certainly by now be free.

There is no reason why the Court would not have agreed to impose a lenient sentence as part of a plea bargain. There are (or were) ample grounds for mitigation given that the girls are (1) young and inexperienced and therefore could argue that they did not fully understand the upset what they did would cause (2) have no previous history of serious criminal convictions (3) did not cause material damage (4) did not act for material gain (5) can validly argue that they did what they did because they were incensed by the Patriarch’s support for Putin in the election campaign and (6) because two of them are mothers with children. I understand that sentencing practice for the offensive of hooliganism is flexible so the Court has wide discretion as to the sort of sentence it can impose once it has taken the admission, apology and plea in mitigation into account.

The question is whether the outbreak of sanity we have seen this morning has come too late. The trial has now started and the apology offered is much less than fulsome and the mitigation has been seriously damaged by the arrogant and disruptive conduct of the defence up to now. Significantly there is no promise from the girls not to do the same thing again whilst a further bad sign is that the girls’ lawyers have renewed their pointless call for the Patriarch to give evidence at the trial. Since the Patriarch was not present in the Cathedral when the offence was committed he is not a witness and there is therefore no sense in calling him. I understand that the defence is also persisting in its foolish argument that the prosecution is somehow politically motivated, which makes no sense in the light of the admission made this morning and which can only further damage the girls’ mitigation and antagonise the Court.

Let us hope however that the admissions and comments made this morning do represent a sea change and a dawning realisation that the defence tactics adopted up to now whatever their political impact have been from a legal point of view disastrously counterproductive. In that case it is just possible even now that a line may be drawn under the whole affair. I am not holding my breath though.

... The Pussy Riot case shows no crisis within the Russian court system. What it shows is appalling conduct by the defence as I have discussed previously. [Emphasis added]

There are many other things that people in the West don't know, because the mainstream media don't tell them.

Russian public opinion is mostly against Pussy Riot. Maybe, partly because the Russians, speaking the language, are not so easily misinformed by the media as we in the West are, and know exactly what swear words these women were shouting while punching the air and kicking their heads off in the Cathedral's sanctuary containing the altar.

How strange that the word "hate", that so frequently and liberally is spread around by the politically correct Left, is not used by them here when it so aptly describes what the band's behaviour expresses.

This is what Zagolovki, a Russian-language news blog, says (Google translation):
Protesters [at the furst court hearing of the Pussy Riot trial] were significantly lower than during the last few sessions on the arrest of girls from Pussy Riot, - no more than two hundred persons, and opponents with posters "for morality" and "Protect Our Children" was significantly greater.
And the blog Da Russophile summarizes several opinion polls thus:
April poll, Levada: 47% of “shocked and outraged ordinary Russians” [this is what British paper The Guardian had written, which the post intelligently and mercilessly attacks] think 7 years is an adequate punishment; 32% think it is excessive; and a mere 10% do not think they should be criminally prosecuted at all.

April poll, VCIOM: How do Russians look at Pussy Riot’s “punk prayer”? Hooliganism – 46%; sacrilege – 21%; political protest – 13%; PR – 10%; 4% – encouragement of hatred towards religious groups; 1% – art. In other words, only 14% of Russians agree with The Guardian’s interpretation. 86% think Pussy Riot should be prosecuted.

July poll, Levada: 36% approve of the prosecution of Pussy Riot, 50% disapprove.

July poll, FOM: 34% of Russians think that several years in prison is a just sentence, whereas 37% disagree. If they were asked to write a sign a letter in defense of Pussy Riot, 28% say they would and 51% say they wouldn’t.

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