For all you fans of free speech out there, today has been a pretty rubbish day. Following months of being held without an actual conviction, three members of the Russian punk band 'Pussy Riot' have been sentenced to two years in prison for the truly heinous crime of holding an anti-Putin protest concert. A ridiculously disproportionate punishment that, you'd surely think wouldn't happen anywhere in the world in 2012 and has lead to worldwide outcry. Blogs have been full of furious posts demanding the release of the band, Madonna and Paul McCartney have complained loudly about the oppression of artistic freedom and Anthony Keidis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers has been wearing his home made Pussy Riot t shirt to perform.
Of course, the real reason they've been shoved in a cell is because now they can't hold more concerts and if they're not holding concerts they're not making us think about how generally rubbish Putin is. Now, I'm not recommending some sort of violent revolution but, I'm pretty certain this was the kind of leadership that lead to the Tsar being overthrown. This suggests it's not a leadership style that's highly recommended...
Russia for a long time has been under scrutiny for multiple and consistent human rights abuses. Those involved in peaceful protests are regularly detained, high control over broadcasting and mass media and corruption in the law are all huge problems. And, like all long running issues it's gone off the radar a bit until Pussy Riot thrust it back under the spotlight in typical punk style.You'll all probably know that I'm not too big a fan of Cameron, but at least I know that I can blog saying that and I don't have to worry about being arrested for it.
What's happened is just so ridiculous, three locked up Draconian style and three in hiding from the authorities and for what? A concert.
For more information, you can read Amnesty International's Annual Report 2012 on the human rights situation in Russia here and an interview with the three members of Pussy Riot in hiding here.