Russia: Pussy Riot

The 3 members of the feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot have been found guilt of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, after being detained for months for their February 21 protest at the Christ the Savior Cathedral.

3 of 7 Female Members of Pussy Riot have Sparked International Controversy after Being Detained by Russian Authorities

Pussy Riot is a 7-member punk-rock band in Russia infamous for staging impromptu performances in public areas demonstrating their disdain for the return of a Stalin-esque era under Putin.  Most recently, the 7 members staged one such performance in the Christ the Savior Cathedral, criticizing the support Putin has received from the church.  The resulting crackdown by police forces after the video went viral represents that return of censorship and repression that has been installed under Putin.  The return of Putin has been marked by continuous protests and demonstrations against the militaristic, hard-lined conservative President notorious for his repressive handling of anything liberal.  So saying, the recent suppression of Pussy Riot serves as another illustration of the dictatorial nature of the President, marking a blow against freedom of expression and the return disproportionate punishment.  The 3 women that were detained for over 5 months have been convicted of charges of hate-motivated hooliganism and sentenced to 2 years in prison.  Moscow’s Khamonvinchsky District Court found 22-year-old Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23-year-old Maria Alyokhina, and 30-year-old Yekaterina Samutsevish guilty on charges of hooliganism committed by a groups of persons motivated by religious hatred, under article 213, part 2 of Russia’ criminal code.  Despite the reported ruling for anti-religion, the group’s activism was aimed at criticizing the politics of the Church and the support it has for Putin.  The claims of religious hatred are fraudulent and mark the corruption of the justice system instituted in Russia, thus signifying the emerging conservative state based upon vague laws and bureaucracy used to control the citizens.  Not only was the verdict unjust and unfounded, but the proceedings of the trial were shameful and dishonest, shaking the belief of any Russians that were still optimistically in support of the faux democracy under Putin.  The judge rejected the defense and refused to hear reports from several witnesses who were in support of the band members, firmly denying all accounts of political activism and focusing solely on the religious aspect of the band’s ‘punk prayer’.  So saying, the trial of Pussy Riot has gained international attention, resulting in a sensationalist fervor in international media that has proliferated the reports of harsh treatment and possible torture while in police custody.  Evidently, the personal vendetta of Putin against the protest movement has resulted in the disproportionate punishment levied against the members of the band, turning the protest into a much more accredited symbolic movement that has gained international support and thus renewed attention on the practices of Putin’s theological rubber-stamping repressive regime.

“It’s clear in this case that the women’s aim was to make a political statement, and it’s also clear that some found their actions offensive.  But there is still a long way to go between an offensive political statement and a hate crime.” – Hugh Williamson, Human Rights Director of Europe and Central Asia division

The trial of Pussy Riot, at first a propaganda show by Putin to discourage further protests by crucifying the members as feminist hooligans of questionable morality, an erroneous judgement based upon their ‘unethical’ attack on religious values; the trial has spun chaotically into an international media fervor in which corruption and repression have become defining headlines for Putin’s return.  The media has seized upon the offences of the regime, intensifying the diplomatic pressure on Putin for the unjust ruling and punishments.  Reports being proliferated throughout the Western world allege that the band members have been forced to sit in cages for 5 days, some days for 10 hours at a time, being denied food and adequate sleep.  The regime has attempted to exhaust the members in order to extinguish their revolutionary fires, fires that have spread throughout the Russian and international public encouraging uproar and condemnation for such human rights violations.  Nevertheless, as the solidarity of the Western masses begin to coalesce into clusters of sensationalist supporters, the severity of the situation is being muddled in the new form of pop culture activism which, despite resonating enthusiasm, is short-lived and quickly turned into a celebration of issues not at central to the real problem being debated.  This is later turned into an exploit of commercialism that ends in the decay of the movement and the loss of a cause based on good intentions.  Pussy Riot embodies the questions about Russia’s degrading political freedoms and civil liberties,  a series of problems that have escalated under the iron fist of Putin’s powers.  In 2010, a Moscow district court found the co-organizers of a controversial art exhibit “Forbidden Art-2006”, at the Sakharov Museum in Moscow guilty of inciting religious hatred, which is considered an extremist offense, and fined them.  In June and July, in the midst of protests against Putin’s election, the newly formed loyalist parliament adopted a raft of laws putting new restrictions on certain nongovernmental organizations that receive foreign funding, on public demonstrations, and on the Internet.  During a winter peaceful opposition protest, authorities arrested demonstrators who were reportedly involved in a clash with police during the mass demonstration.  They were later charged with crimes disproportionate to their alleged actions.  Police have also conducted searches of the homes of opposition leaders that seemed intended to intimidate them.  Evidently, the intensified oppression of liberties and freedom marks the rise of the police state in Russia, centered around a cult of personality that resembles one of the Soviet era.  Putin’s use of force is not aimed at protecting public order and security, but instead, at setting boundaries for political criticism.

“The millions of dollars of taxpayer money spent in the last few years on fixing the image of our country abroad have been thrown to the wind.  Our image is getting closer to a medieval dictatorship, although in reality we are not that.” – Tina Kandelaki, prominent pro-Putin media personality

The controversy of Pussy Riot’s performances and messages have allowed for their trail and stance against political takeover to be heard across the world, constructing a solidarity movement of organizations and countries in support of the release of the female band members.  Nevertheless, the hype behind the members is being warped by popular culture.  Kony 2012 is a fit warning for the development of movements dedicated to representing and fighting for the just causes of Pussy Riot.  Kony 2012 brought to light a serious problem – warlords escaping justice in Central Africa – but it was turned into an exercise in commercialism, militarism, and Western meddling.  The intensity of the movement was rampant in the first few months but quickly died away as the message quickly became distorted by public mediums in charge of manipulating ideas and ideals to be readily consumed by the masses.  In Russia, Pussy Riot’s new found Western fans are taking the severity of the cause – fighting against political corruption and infringement on civil liberties and freedoms – and turning it into a celebration of feminist punk music and art.  The attention is being drawn from Putin and the hierarchy that is being installed.  For instance, whilst the Western sensationalist culture stars perpetuate the public fervor in directions other than political rights, there lacks any coverage of the much harsher sentences facing the not so famous and not-female co-protesters.  Along with Arytom Savylov, 12 other protesters have charged with calling for mass disorder and assaulting police officers.  Each of them could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.  This is not to say that there is special attention geared towards Pussy Riot because of their status as women, but their popularity in pop culture has allowed them to become figureheads for the media.  With respect, the media has allowed for the trial and unjust ruling to become a global phenomenon but it also results in a smokescreen for the more nefarious actions being committed but not reported.  The obsessive focus on these 3 women, not for their activism or political dissent, but for their status as female punk rockers, risks drawing attention away from other Russian activists or political prisoners and focusing it instead on the plight of all-women punk rock bands, which is decidedly less dire. Moreover, the message of Pussy Riot is about political action and refusing to stand by and allow for the Russia people to be, once again, enslaved by the President.  So saying, the members would not look favorably on the media distortion of the trial’s unjust ending and the manipulated focus on punk rock and popular items of culture that are not correlated to the activist call that they perpetuate. The consequences of the cultural focus also envelop the ability for Putin to manipulate the coverage by appearing lenient and forgiving towards the bands’ members (as has done by asking for lenient sentencing), while he deals in backrooms for harsher treatment of the other protesters (which was done and said above).

“It shows that the Russian authorities will stop at no end to suppress dissent and stifle civil society.  Each step in the case has been an affront to human rights.” – Michelle Ringuette, Amnesty International

In retrospect, the controversy surrounding Pussy Riot brings to light the re-emergence of the Soviet-era police state under former-KGB member, Vladimir Putin; yet, the overt attention of manipulated media has skewed international perspectives away from the general repression of the Russian people and more towards the popular culture item – a female punk rock band.  The development of cultural hype about the detention of these members is likely to converge with Kony 2012 in a cesspool of yet another failed international propaganda movement.  So saying, Putin has attempted to crucify the members in a general policy of ending future protests to his Soviet-esque power and though this has failed, Putin has succeeded in diverting attention away from the trials and tribulations of other political prisoners being tortured and sentenced to much harsher terms.  The Western world has hoped onto the bandwagon of Pussy Riot-related injustices because of their cultural significance as a punk rock band, their status as female punk-rockers and because of the provocative nature of the name, a multitude of selling points for the profit-seeking media networks.  It is this consequence of cultural hype that must be avoided so as to honor the purpose of Pussy Riot and the many other revolutionary persons in Russia that have braved the repression of Russian authorities to demonstrate the return of totalitarianism in Russia.   It is the mission and its objective of transparency in a faux democracy that should be celebrated in the Western lands, not the unjust sentence of a few female punk rockers.

America: The All-Seeing ‘Big Brother’ – Government Surveillance

The iron fist of blood and empire has seized hold of the Stars and Stripes, raging a silent war against the democratic foundation of the nation’s people whose rights and liberties have been done away with and replaced with a repressive totalitarian order that, endorsed by the plutocracy, moves rapidly towards the enslavement of its own people.

The American Government’s Intelligence Community Parallels the Orwellian ‘Big Brother is Watching You”

Despite the constitutional protection and basic human rights that are supposedly guaranteed to the citizens of the American nation; there exists an overbearing hand that promises just reparation, but instead delivers a redefined notion of democracy through which the powers that be are able to monitor, seize and control the assets of the nation in order to repress and essentially enslave the people into a new form of complicit servitude.  Through the perpetuating false flag of terrorism, the war lobbies and corporate oligarchs have secured their hold on the government and undercut the power of the people over their government.  Without the tools given and cemented in the Constitution, such as government accountability and the right to protest, the American people stand as blind sheep as their sons and daughters are sent to foreign lands to fight a war for the ruling plutocracy.  As the soil of foreign lands are reaped for corporate profit, the government installs regime change to institute a new form of imperialism to secure a lasting relationship of foreign imposition and corruption.  The evidence is clear, but the American populous stands silent in fear of having the repressive eye of government enforcement turned domestically.  With the CIA, FBI, NSA and other government agencies becoming mercenaries for hire, the American populous has already fallen into the tyrannical regime that has been installed abroad.  The government has already superseded constitutional boundaries and has begun its assault on civil liberties to establish an empire of intelligence gathering and repressive prosecution.  The huddled masses have fallen complicit and complacent as re-education and prison camps are constructed in their suburbs, being occupied by civilians with familiar faces and familiar names.  With citizens being labelled as terrorists and conspiracists, the government has coalesced into a system run by the rule of martial law with no borders.  The rise of the totalitarian regime was not an over-night event; rather, the path has been secured by the evolving propaganda machine begun by Wilson and used by leaders like Nixon and Reagan to justify military build-up and crippling taxation.  Continuing under George W. Bush and Obama, the passing of the Patriot Act, the military contract to Halliburton’s subsidiary KBR to build domestic detention camps, Operation Falcon (I, II, and III), the creation of the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit, and the passing of the NDAA; the police state in the US was given a foundation through which the domestic populous was being reduced into a herd of subservient fodder for the corporate controlled machines.  So saying, this post focuses on the rise of corporate bought intelligence community being turned inwards and monitoring the actions of the domestic populous, thus embodying ‘Big Brother is Watching You’.

“He said don’t take this for the way it is.  You better watch out son, when you give in.  Before you know it, the friends you trust will have stabbed you in the back.” – Anti-Flag, “If You Wanna Steal (You Better Learn How to Lie)

The regime being instituted in America is democratic at face-value, leaving the separation of powers and popular elections; but these institutions fail to provide the values and principles of liberal democracy through which a government, for and by the people, is intended to represent.  Rather, the currency of the nation is currency, valuing capital and pursuit of such greed at the cost of the peoples’ liberties and rights.  Dissolving the notions of democracy for the purpose of plutocracy, the government has been mutated into an overbearing hand of control.  With control of all assets of the infrastructure, ‘Big Brother’ has empowered itself through various means of the law.  The argument being provided for the infringement of peoples’ lives and liberties is that of national security, the ambiguous and heterogeneous term whose definition relies on special interests groups.  The US Constitution provides the American people with certain protections and freedoms, of which the majority are being violated by the public’s complicit behavior to the government’s seizure of more power.  The premise of national security is to protect the interest of the nation, an interest intended to be reflected by the majority of the population and their representatives.  In the case of America, violating civil liberties to protect the nation is contradictory.  When a person’s rights are violated, it harms every person in the nation and thus the nation.  So saying, the argument betrays the reality that the federal powers are not interested in the protection of the people and the nation; rather, the federal powers are interested in profiteering at the expense of the people.  The Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court is an example of the system undermining the powers of the people and giving special interest groups and their lobbyists even more power in the government.  The decision not only undermines the influence of government accountability on government officials, but it reverses laws that limited the role of corporate money in federal elections, thus securing the plutocracy of narrow business leaders.  This decisions embodies the greater reality that corporations are able to fund and manipulate political decision-making in their favor, thus turning the government into their own omniscient tool to control and subdue the masses into their corporate-led herds.

“Join now!  Don’t wait!  Make death, your date!  Salute and fight!  Fight for the wealth of the few!  Wrapped in a flag and sold to you, sold as Freedom.  It’s up to you to see through the lies of those who’ve led us to endless world strife.” – Anti-Flag, “Sold As Freedom”

The interests of these corporate leaders is to profit at the expense of domestic and foreign peoples’, a means to be achieved through consolidating their power on the government by controlling and quieting the public.  The Freedom of Information Act has allowed the America’s Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to release documents that report that technology, such as cell phones, are used as surveillance tools to encroach on the public’s privacy.  The data, calls, phone numbers, photos and electronic locations, on a cell phone are being turned over to authorities without a warrant and the service providers profit from the sale.  Moreover, the citizens pay for the service and pay taxes to fund the local and federal departments who are being sold this information; thus, the public is investing in agencies dedicated to infringing on their privacy and enslaving them to a constant surveillance system.  The infringement of rights and liberties by the government for purposes of ensuring a complicit and silent public is also evident in the Patriot Act.  Initially passes under the Bush administration in response to 9/11, the Obama administration signed a 4-year extension of three of its key provisions: roving wiretaps, searches of business records and conducting surveillance on individual suspected of terrorist-related activities not linked to terrorist groups.  Evidently the provisions being perpetuated are clear illustrations of the government’s vagrant disregard for civil liberties and gives the federal government the ability to spy on any and all citizens under the ambiguous terms, “terrorist-related activities”.  Among the tools at the government’s behest are internet service providers and cable companies.  Both of which receive federal money to disclose all the information of their customers.  The name, address, local and long distance telephone billing records, bank account and credit card numbers are provided to the government by the companies, in return for tax payer dollars.  One program still continuing from its birth under Bush’s Patriot Act is Stellar Wind.  The program is intended to mine a large database of communications of American citizens, basing a NSA Data Center in Utah.  The purpose was to intercept, decipher, analyze and store vast swath’s of the world’s communications in the center, thus becoming the government’s property to do with as it sees fit.  In short, the NSA is building the country’s biggest spy center and the $2 billion facility in Utah is to be finished in 2013 and is being constructed by businesses with ties to the former Bush administration, thus demonstrating the profiteering stance of corporations in the intelligence takeover of the public arena.

“The phrase world leaders does not describe the heads of state.  Those few in power, work only for the corporate sake.  No action, no interest, no humanity at all.  As the corporate towers rise up, they watch the people fall.” – Anti-Flag, “No Borders, No Nations”

Though Bush personally oversaw the rise of government power in his counter-terrorism policies, the Obama administration has also revamped efforts to narrow in on domestic targets.  The recent media coverage of the ‘Kill List’ list has seized international attention and demonstrated the dissolution of habeas corpus for Americans considered a threat in foreign lands.  The President has launched an assassination campaign and has made the global arena a war zone, thus signifying that all those killed are war-time casualties and reducing the recorded number of civilian casualties.  Nevertheless, domestically the passing of the NDAA for 2012 marked the passing of Title X, Subtitle D, sub-sections 1021 and 1022 which allowed for the indefinite detention of American citizens without due process or warrant.  Many of the suspects arrested have been shipped to Guantanamo Bay, others have possibly been sent to detention and re-education camps built by Halliburton’s KBR under the Bush years.  The new marks a clear parallel to the edicts of totalitarian regimes elsewhere in the world.  The new law, violating basic human rights and constitutional liberties, allow government agencies to inherently spy on daily routines and activities of Americans and then possibly detain them in Guantanamo, a clearly inhumane prison camp.  The deceleration of the NDAA has also allowed for the writing of legislation, “FAA Re-authorization and Reform Act of 2012”.  The legislation would allow for the military’s drone program to establish itself in American skies.  Though not the militaristic nature of those involved in the assassination campaign of Obama’s ‘Kill List’, these micro-drones are used by the NSA to aid in the surveillance and monitoring programs within the US.

“Welcoming with open arms and open hearts, in the end they found their arms in shackles and their hearts town out.  This country named ‘America’ is built on graves.” – Anti-Flag, “Stars and Stripes”

In retrospect, the profiteering agenda of the plutocracy has been consolidated through the seizure of government away from the people and into the lining of their pocket books, maintaining a complicit and subdued public through an increasingly overbearing intelligence community.  Mirroring the Orwellian ‘Big Brother’, the policies of the government have seized assets of telephone companies, cable companies and use military technology to advance their surveillance and monitoring system through the American nation.  So saying, the American system has become a repressive hand of totalitarian control through which the narrow business interests of the ruling classes are able to prosper and advance their agenda through the infringement and violation of rights and liberties promised under the Constitution.

America: The Police State – 1984

Reserving the right to act unilaterally, including the unilateral use of military force, the police state has expanded its Orwellian tyranny upon the American masses in a successful coup of civil rights and humanity, installing a regime reminiscent of 1984.

Representing a Modern Day 1984 Regime, the American Police State has Seized Totalitarian Control

Coalescing into a government-run by the rule of law, the police state used the occasion of the terrorist atrocities of 9-11 to discipline its own population and abuse civil rights – even the right of citizenship – to secure greater control over American life.  Parallel to the darkest days of McCarthyism, the Bush administration claimed and exercised the right to declare people to be ‘enemy combatants’ or ‘suspected terrorists’ and to imprison them without charge or access to lawyers or family until the White House concedes that the ‘War on Terror’ has been successively concluded.  Conveniently, an enemy combatant can be anyone the US chooses to attack, with no credible evidence, as Washington concedes and thus illustrates the tyrannical power being established under false charges.  Superseding constitutional rights, the new assault on basic civil liberties established an empire of intelligence gathering and repressive action comparable to the foundation of all totalitarian governments, whether Nazi or Communist.  Wielding insurmountable power to quell even the slightest anti-government rally, the tradition of protest and dissent has fallen away into a conformist subservience to those in power.  The huddled masses, complicit and complacent, allow the government to seize all assets of modern society to further its goals of hegemony domestically and abroad, a goal fueled by corporate influence to safeguard their ability to behave as monopolistically as possible.  Exercising rigid and repressive control over social, economic and political life of the population, the American police state has dissolved any and all distinctions between the law and the exercise of political power by the executive.  So saying, the corporate controlled government has essentially transformed law into a flexible living instrument to be bent to their ideals.  The Patriot Act was the first major erosion of American civil liberties.  Over the past decade this erosion has only deepened, including the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act and the signing of the National Defense Resources Preparedness executive order signed by President Obama.  The NDAA now allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial any US citizen that the government labels a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism, thus expanding the definition of terrorism to include citizen activists.  The executive order authorizes widespread federal and military control of the national economy and resources during emergency and non-emergency conditions, as well as the right to install government-owned equipment in private industrial facilities.

“The government controls everything you do.  With police and Feds watching over you, you  try to stand against them and you’ll end up dead as your front door is smashed in by the ATF.  Police state in the USA, Fascism with a friendly face.” – Anti-Flag, “Police State in the USA”

The American populace has been restricted, their mobility and freedom put into question by police monitoring and enforcement so as to enforce political control outside the boundaries normally imposed by a constitutional state.  Invoking a perpetual war, the government has created a pretext for subjecting the people to mass surveillance and invasive police searches.  Among the assets being utilized to propagate an unrelenting intrusion into the general public, is media.  To describe modern media as propaganda is to understate the extent to which conservative capitalists have seized control over the publishing of news. Parallel to the FBI, CIA, NSA and all assets of federal and state security, the media has become a source to propagate societal complacency, to proliferate a false sense of status quo.  The people have been ignorant of the fact that habeas corpus is no longer a legal protection in the US or that the US president can torture and kill American citizens.  Recent ‘Continuity of Government’ planning has removed constitutional protections and increased the militarization of civilian law enforcement.  Military troops are allowed to conduct police actions in the US cities, removing the local law enforcement which is to be responsible to local citizens.  The police state has mobilized its assets to sustain preparations for the possibility of martial law.  Another example is Operation Falcon, of which there has been 3 and have detained an estimated 10,000 dissidents.  Less than 10% of these people were reported to have any criminal records.  To date, the US Marshal’s office has issued no public statement as to whether the people arrested in Operation Falcon have been processed or released.  The US Marshal’s service has not yet disclosed the names of the people arrested in these massive police sweeps, nor what crimes they were accused.  The public has not been informed whether those detained were provided with due process of law, where they are now, or whether they have been abused while in custody.  In short, the operation appears to have been devised to enhance the power of the unitary executive by putting state and local law enforcement under federal supervision.

“You walk past an activist, who is talking on the street about political prisoners, locked up in your own home state.  And you think just for a minute, you think just a second.  Then you say, ‘That can’t be true!  Cause I live in the land of freedom, where no one gets the screw!'” – Anti-Flag, “Until It Happens to You”

A form of martial law already exists in the US and has been in place since shortly after the September 11 attacks when Bush issued Military Order Number Once, which empowered him to detain any non-citizen as an international terrorist or enemy combatant.  Today, that order extends to US citizens as well.  The dismissal of elementary human rights and needs has been endorsed by corporations, securing government contracts to evade constitutional boundaries and intrude upon the lives of suburban America.  Halliburton’s subsidiary KBR (formerly Kellogg, Brown and Root) announced in 2006 that it has been awarded a $385 million contingency contact by the Department of Homeland Security to build detention camps in the US.  Each facility had the capability of detaining 5,000 people. Attorney General John Ashcroft supported the establishment of such facilities and expressed his desire to see these camps used for US citizens deemed to be ‘enemy combatants’, a term already described as ambiguous and government-defined dependent.  The contact of the Halliburton subsidiary is part of a longer-term Homeland Security plan entitled Endgame, which sets as its goal the removal of all potential enemy combatants.  The plan corresponds to an earlier program discussed by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld under Reagan.  These man planned for the suspension of the Constitution for any ‘national security emergency’.   The police state has emerged as a living organism through which the US government can perpetuate its Orwellian regime upon the people.  Among its tools are the FBI, CIA and virtually every other agency given the authority to spy to defend Americans from foreign and domestic enemies.  These tools have all been used sooner or later to threaten civil liberties.  Nevertheless, a considerable threat to coveted constitutional rights is the American secret police network, the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit (LEIU).  The LEIU links the intelligence squads of almost every major police force in the US and Canada.  The members are not answerable to voters, taxpayers, or elected officials.  Ex-members of the LEIU admit to illegal wiretapping, breaking and entering and spying on people to gather information for their files.  Clearly this serves as an evident depiction reminiscent of the Gestapo, KGB, or any other totalitarian network of illegal monitoring.

“When there are secrets that we don’t know, then the ideal they pass as freedom in this country is a fake.  When we are left with no right or no voice to choose, then we’re not living in a free and democratic state.” – Anti-Flag, “What You Don’t Know”

In retrospect, the totalitarian regime being mascaraed as democracy is proliferating a repressive and intrusive monitoring network that outpaces the worst civil liberty violations committed by past police states in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Communist Eastern Europe and even modern Communist China.  Amounting to an empire geared towards militarized actions both abroad and at home, the American police state has effectively cast out human rights and constitutional rights to further its policy agenda of perpetuating hegemony.  The only action possible seems to be a complete and total return to the social justice values of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, a necessary revolution for change to resist the privacy intrusions into domestic homes, police state in the commons and extrajudicial killings.