Erstellt am: 29. 9. 2012 - 12:57 Uhr
Pussy Riot Conspiracies
There was this week's nomination for the European Parliament's Sakaharov Prize. Before that, the LennonOno Prize for Peace, an Amnesty International award, and a feature video at the MTV Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. The longer Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich spend in prison, the more their fame seems to grow.
And, for that, the Kremlin sees sinister forces at play.
Arkady Mamentov, a special correspodent on Russian state television, recently offered the Kremlin's response in a curious expose called "Provocateur 2". Cue the ominous soundtrack for here snakes lie at every turn!
It turns out that Boris Berezovsky, an exiled Russian oligarch and enemy of Putin's, conceived Pussy Riot's performance in the Moscow church in a declaration of war against the Orthodox Church! Wait, there's more. A London-based PR company offered western pop stars such as Paul McCartney, Madonna, and Bjork were paid 100,000 Euro bonuses to publicly support the band! And get this: "some Americans" were involved!!!!
Russians have always held a fondness for conspiracy theories - even as a foreigner living here you're exposed to your fair share of them. (Some I even half believe - "Putin flying with those Siberian cranes? One of his six doubles.", a friend recently told me. "Why would he risk it?" - I had to admit he had a point.) But, using by state media, the Kremlin is actively wiring one theory in particular into the mainstream consciousness: enemies are at the gates.
The idea of a hidden American hand, in particular, looms big in the Kremlin's imagination - particularly as it tries to explain Pussy Riot and the wider anti-Putin demonstrations of the past year. Putin has accused demonstrators of acting on a "signal" from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. New legislation will soon require Russian non-governmental organizations that receive outside funding to register as "foreign agents". Starting Monday, the United States International Development Agency (USAID) will be expelled altogether. In a curious twist, USAID's closure falls on the same day as Pussy Riot's court appeal in Moscow and celebrations of "World Pussy Riot Day" quite possibly in a town near you.
The band's supporters in Russia have expressed hope for the courts to overule the conviction - particularly in light of comments by Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev that further incarceration would be "unproductive". But Medvedev no longer holds the political clout he once did.
The state Duma is currently considering legislation to criminalize any future insults to the Orthodox Church (few doubt the measure will pass). And the Kremlin's Nashi youth brigade gleefully announced this week a cash bounty of nearly 1,300 Euros to anyone who unmasks Pussy Riot members still at-large.
If, as their lawyers suspect, Pussy Riot's conviction holds or additional arrests of bandmembers occur, events will continue to push an unflattering view of Russia - as a country medievil, conspiratorial, and increasingly adrift from Europe - may take hold.
In fact, one might even wonder if someone wanted it that way.