Garry Kasparov Was Arrested Outside Of Pussy Riot Courthouse

from the kings-and-pawns dept

We had just covered the shameful Russian court ruling that sentenced members of the punk band Pussy Riot to two years in prison over their political music/speech at an Orthodox church. Aside from being a simply horrific example of the Russian government coming down hard against free political speech, this move was also curious in that it essentially took a moderately-known punk band and turned them into The West's next great martyrs. Several high profile musical artists have already kept the story going, including Madonna, Bjork, and Paul McCartney, in the tradition of The Streisand Effect.

And now, as is being reported in several places, we learn that famed chess champion Garry Kasparov's name can be added to the list of high-profile figures involved. He details in The Wall Street Journal his own arrest outside of the courthouse the day of Pussy Riot's sentencing. It should be noted that Kasparov is the leader of the United Civil Front in Russia and Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation here in The States, and that he's been a critic of Vladimir Putin in the past, but none of that appears to excuse his arrest.
The crowds outside the court building made entry nearly impossible, so I stood in a doorway and took questions from journalists. Suddenly, I was dragged away by a group of police—in fact carried away with one policeman on each arm and leg.

The men refused to tell me why I was being arrested and shoved me into a police van. When I got up to again ask why I had been detained, things turned violent. I was restrained, choked and struck several times by a group of officers before being driven to the police station with dozens of other protesters. After several hours I was released, but not before they told me I was being criminally investigated for assaulting a police officer who claimed I had bitten him.
Taking Kasparov at his word, it would appear as though the Russian government decided to silence more political speech against the silencing of political speech. This is something that can easily spiral out of control, because, while reports are that Russia in general isn't particularly supportive of what Pussy Riot did, they are far more vehemently against how the Russian government responded. As The Economist notes, recent polling shows the Russian people's compartmentalized views:
Although recent polling by the Levada Centre shows that many question the court’s objectivity and see the hand of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin in the prosecution, fewer are ready to support Pussy Riot: 51% held negative or hostile views toward the group’s actions, another 20% were neutral or indifferent.
Negative views of Pussy Riot or not, when you begin adding more arrests against speech, particularly of high profile people like Garry Kasparov, the Russian government risks losing the advantage of that ambivalence entirely and becoming the chief bad guy in this entire story (if they aren't already). Unfortunately, from Kasparov's viewpoint inside of Russia, not enough has been done diplomatically from The West as of yet.
Such a brazen step should raise alarms, but the leaders of the Free World are clearly capable of sleeping through any wake-up call. A spokesman for the Obama administration called the sentence "disproportionate," as if the length of the prison term were the only problem with open repression of political speech.
If officials at the U.S. State Department are as "seriously concerned" about free speech in Russia as they say, I suggest they drop their opposition to the Magnitsky Act pending in the Senate. That legislation would bring financial and travel sanctions against the functionaries who enact the Kremlin's agenda of repression. Hit them where it hurts and expose them as the thugs that they are. Those who wish to help should pressure their representatives to pass such measures. If you live in a democracy you have a voice. Do not waste it.
Mike has written in reference to the Magnitsky Act before, but I think it goes without saying that if America wants to be a nation that stands on Free Speech principles, it needs to do so consistently, regardless of any touchy diplomatic issues that may be present. There is simply no excuse for the United States not to come out strongly against what has happened to Pussy Riot and Kasparov. As a country founded on Free Speech principles, we are obligated to uphold those values across diplomatic lines.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Aug 20th, 2012 @ 3:04pm

    Riiiiiiiight

    "if America wants to be a nation that stands on Free Speech principles, it needs to do so consistently"

    Well yes that would be logical...now if the last 12 years could be ignored, perhaps we *might* (cough cough) qualify...

     

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    Vog (profile), Aug 20th, 2012 @ 3:09pm

    You would think a chess grandmaster would know better than to leave himself en prise.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 3:12pm

    So is this ... checkmate?

     

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    silverscarcat (profile), Aug 20th, 2012 @ 3:15pm

    "There is simply no excuse for the United States not to come out strongly against what has happened to Pussy Riot and Kasparov. As a country founded on Free Speech principles, we are obligated to uphold those values across diplomatic lines."

    Except, you know, the whole "war on terror" thing took away many free speech principles.

     

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    Jeremy Silver, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 3:47pm

    Typo in article...

    Should be Madonna, not Modonna.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 4:01pm

    Puitn still shocked and outraged that PUSSY RIOT is not quiet and inoffensive.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 4:01pm

      Re:

      *Putin

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 4:51pm

      Re:

      I remember reading in the slashdot comments that the digital translator didn't do that good of a job (I dunno since I don't speak Russian). Digital translations are still not as good as anthropogenic translations but, just like with chess, maybe one day they will have us beat.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 5:06pm

        Re: Re:

        On a side note, I notice that the Spanish to English translations seem to be half decent (still needs improvement obviously) but Google translation still does a poor job translating from English to Spanish and it does an even worse job translating from English to Arabic.

         

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          LDoBe (profile), Aug 20th, 2012 @ 9:13pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          That's because Google Translate "uses statistical models" to translate words and sentences from one language to another using datapoints gleaned from webpages. Or at least, that's the official explanation.

          If that's true, then it simply doesn't take into account tenses, grammatical rules, or meaning (in any meaningful way (rimshot)).

          If a page that is natively arabic also has a link to an english counterpart, google would just do a straight 1:1 word translation, not taking into account any grammatical structure.

          That's how you get non-english pages translated into english looking like:

          "In case dearth and said orifice no splyzna like, ontological right ovens."

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 9:40pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Give it ten years

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 9:41pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              (if not google translate, some other digital translator will come along that will do a decent job).

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2012 @ 10:05pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Also, one way you can test how well the translator works is by translating something from English to Spanish and then copying the result and translating it back to English and see if anything is lost or if the meaning of the translation changes or becomes incomprehensible. Try taking something and translating it through a circle of languages using copy and paste and then eventually back to the original language and see if the final result meaningfully resembles what was initially entered.

               

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            Niall (profile), Aug 21st, 2012 @ 2:19am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I believe it also uses official translations from sources like the EU - this means it's not bad for stilted or technical language, but it's poor at 'spoken'/written language. I know, because I've used it to proof my wife's translations - when she's doing medical or computer texts, sometimes I have more luck reading the original via Google Translate than her English, since she is doing the traditional 're-casting' that the humanities teach you to do. :)

             

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    Beech, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 4:07pm

    Shame

    "We had just covered the shameful Russian court ruling that sentenced members of the punk band Pussy Riot to two years in prison over their political music/speech at an Orthodox church. "

    Really wish people around here would stop using the word "shameful" to describe things that shameless entities do. Yes, if anyone in the Russian government, or the MPAA, or the RIAA was even remotely capable of the emotion called "shame" then calling things they do "shameful" would make more sense. Also, the world would probably be a better place. But they aren't. Maybe try words like "dickish"

    ""We had just covered the dickish Russian court ruling that sentenced members of the punk band Pussy Riot to two years in prison over their political music/speech at an Orthodox church. " There, much more sensical!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 6:34pm

    I was never in the USA, but... I see peopled banned from games for using the name of the Lord in vain.
    Now if this Pussy Riot thing was in the USA, depending where, I think it would be life without parole with the whole nation mumbling about electric chairs. Now stop the propaganda!
    There are very few countries that would let that "freedom of speech" pass with a measly 2 years, and the USA certainly is not one them. If Pussy Riot was Arab Punk it would be Guantanamo. at least.

     

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      Wally (profile), Aug 20th, 2012 @ 8:43pm

      Re:

      "There are very few countries that would let that "freedom of speech" pass with a measly 2 years, and the USA certainly is not one them. If Pussy Riot was Arab Punk it would be Guantanamo. at least."

      Ummmm. The US has Marilyn Manson (who has retired). We also
      allowed The Beatles and Madonna their freedoms of speach. Oh and no arrests were made at Woodstock in 1969, 1994, and 1999. We don't typically send any musicians to jail unless they've actually violated the law.


      Pussy Riot's arrest is a huge violation of free speech. I'm sure if the Romanov Dynasty was still in power in Russia, even they would have allowed Pussy Riot to say what they want.

       

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    Watchit (profile), Aug 20th, 2012 @ 6:59pm

    Dark times indeed for Russia. I pray for a swift end to Putin's rein :[

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 7:01pm

    Not Arab punk, exactly -- more Islam punk:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Taqwacores

    (zine leads to novel inspires music and action and film)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 7:15pm

    Why is it that the western world only gives 15 minutes of fame to these 10 or more women whose crime at most is simply trespassing? That it takes Garry Kasparov, Madonna, Björk Guðmundsdóttir, Paul McCartney, etc to get further attention is truly disrespectful of justice. From what I've read, there is still an active police investigation to arrest the other members of the group, which I'm sure there were some that were not even present at the church. And if you think this is only happening in Russia, you'd be surprised at the events in your own country: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Pussy-Riot-like-justice-around-the-world-3801672.php

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 7:54pm

      Re:

      Actually, it's pretty much telling when Madonna gets involved. She's the classic attention whore, more interested in promoting her own brand and awareness by getting in front of the bus. She's pretty much the same model Dan Bull uses, but without the tits.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 8:37pm

    In Mother Russia pussy riots you.

     

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    Pixelation, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 9:21pm

    Laugh riot

    "...if America wants to be a nation that stands on Free Speech principles, it needs to do so consistently, regardless of any touchy diplomatic issues that may be present."

    Principles have been pushed out of the system. Candidates with principles get quickly thrown by the wayside. We don't want principles, we want sound bites. Tell us what we want to hear or we will elect someone who will. I truly wish I was kidding...

     

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      Ninja (profile), Aug 21st, 2012 @ 4:10am

      Re: Laugh riot

      That. And with Assange, Richard, the NDAA and many violations against their Constitution their light reaction (call the sentence disproportionate) is actually more than their moral grounds allow them.

       

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Aug 20th, 2012 @ 10:56pm

    BRIC Countries Are Too Powerful

    The trouble is, Russia and China are both too economically important to Europe and the USA to make it easy to antagonize them. Russia is a huge supplier of gas to Europe, and Western voters (myself included) want our cheap and abundant Chinese-made consumer goods.

    Consider all the rumblings against North Korea and Iran over their nuclear ambitions, yet India went ahead and actually exploded a nuclear bomb, and it is still very much an ally of the US in particular.

    The only one of the BRIC quartet that hasn’t actually started throwing its weight around as yet is Brazil. I wonder if it’s not just a matter of time...

     

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      Niall (profile), Aug 21st, 2012 @ 2:21am

      Re: BRIC Countries Are Too Powerful

      Just wait until 2016 when they will monopolise the world's IP...

       

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      Ninja (profile), Aug 21st, 2012 @ 4:12am

      Re: BRIC Countries Are Too Powerful

      and Western voters (myself included) want our cheap and abundant Chinese-made consumer goods.

      I'm running from anything made in Chine. And it is depressingly hard to get products that are not made in some sort of slavery system.

       

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        Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Aug 22nd, 2012 @ 12:21pm

        Re: “slavery system”

        Not sure what you mean by that. They may be earning lower incomes than you, but their cost of living is lower, too.

         

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    DNY (profile), Aug 21st, 2012 @ 5:26am

    A thought experiment

    Suppose a rock group with the view that the age-long notion of marriage ought not be changed by either courts or religious groups to allow "same sex unions", or some other view disfavored by both Americas' political elites and liberal protestants, barged into the National Cathedral in Washington, uninvited, and performed a raucous prayer, calling on the Virgin Mary to rebuke both the Episcopal Church and the Obama Administration, accompanied by amplified guitars and a confederate who filmed the whole thing to post on YouTube. Anyone care to guess what charges our government would come up with against them and the likely sentence?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2012 @ 6:07am

      Re: A thought experiment

      Trespass ticket.

      If anyone got hurt, there'd be additional charges.

      The public would be outraged, of course, that such a travesty could be allowed. Obama would be blamed since he supports same-sex unions.

      And Congress would have another excuse to keep the Patriot Act, Homeland Security, warrantless wiretapping, etc etc, yada, yada, yada...going.

       

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