NEWS > EVERYONE ELSE > PUTIN NOW STARVING RUSSIAN PUNK BAND INTO SUBMISSION DURING TRIAL
PUTIN NOW STARVING RUSSIAN PUNK BAND INTO SUBMISSION DURING TRIAL
August 2 2012
Moscow, Russia – The trial of the century, or at least of the year, is currently happening in Russia. That case, the case of the punk band ‘Pussy Riot’ has grabbed headlines both domestically and abroad not so much for the details of the case but for what it says and doesn’t say about the state of free speech in modern Russia.
The three members of the band currently on trial are accused of hooliganism after staging a musical protest against President Vladimir Putin prior to the last election. That protest took place on private grounds, a church, which is the root of the case against the band.
For many Russians, though, the case is not about trespassing or anything even remotely along those lines. The trial is about protesting Putin and his government and the lengths to which free speech can be clamped down upon in the country. Officially, the government has no say in the outcome of the trial but do have a say in how the accused are treated leading up to it, something they are making sure is as difficult as possible by sticking them in small rooms and very little food, hoping they will capitulate or die, whatever works best.
“For a third day running, the girls have been woken at 5am, held in a 1sq m unventilated room, after which they are taken to court,” said lawyer Nikolay Polozov. “They are not fed, and court sessions last up to 12 hours, during which they are only given 20-30 minutes for a small snack of dry rations. They are then taken back to remand after midnight. They are also denied an evening meal and can only sleep for small number of hours.”
Part of that treatment is believed a result of them being prisoners, though generally in modern Russia the accused are given food.
Three members of the band are on trial and all have pleaded not guilty, something which certainly isn’t going to earn them any food.
“This is, whether it actually is or not, a trial of Russia itself. It doesn’t matter if they committed real crimes for which they should be tried. It has become more than that for the people of the country and that means that’s what it is. If the people see it as a trial about free speech then it is that unless of course Putin can beat them,” said Scrape TV International analyst Gustav Hander. “Cramped cells, no food, all of that is pretty traditional stuff when it comes to trying to break a person’s will. Hopefully for Putin it will work.”
On Wednesday a doctor was called to the court because one of the accused collapsed.
“You don’t want to go too far with this kind of thing. You don’t want to create martyrs by killing them and you don’t want public sympathy to turn to their well-being. The idea is to break them, not kill them which is a line Russians traditionally have trouble with,” continued Hander. “Either way it’s pretty clear these girls are determined to be defiant. They really should eat though. It’s hard to protest anything when you are dead. Not impossible mind you but pretty darn hard.”
The remaining members of the band are presumably eating just fine, not being on trial.
President Putin reportedly threw out most of his dinner yesterday, just feeling too full.
Emil Uliya, International Correspondent