Virgin Mary Mother of God
Drive Putin Away
Drive Putin Away
With these words Russian feminist punksters Pussy Riot challenged the very heart of Russian power, and are now paying the price.
They famously performed in Moscow’s holiest cathedral in February, in a direct attack on the Russian Orthodox Church’s open support for President Putin in the last election. The video clip of their performance went global, but what gave them international notoriety was what happened next.
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Eighteen trillion dollars. Yes, “trillion” dollars. That is the broadly accepted working estimate of the amount needed for vital economic infrastructure such as roads, ports, and rail facilities among Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group partners. And that’s just in the current decade to 2020.
It is a staggering sum even considering the large populations and massive growth often associated with this part of the world. For Australia, such an explosion of capital investment portends great opportunities and suggests that in addition to the mining boom, we are situated precisely where you would want to be as the locus of global power swings decidedly eastward.
For the pan-Eurasian colossus of Russia, this tectonic shift is being adapted to with maximum haste because geographically, if not culturally, the former super-power has a foot in both camps. The Russian capital may be closer to western European centres like Helsinki and Stockholm, but its vast territory extends to a coastline nine flying hours and eight time zones to the east. Which is why its President Vladimir Putin, who returned to the top job earlier this year, is now so eager to stress his country’s Asian links.
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When I told the ABC’s political correspondent Louise Yaxley that President Vladimir Putin was approaching our table, she steadfastly refused to turn around, convinced she was the victim of some B-grade schoolyard trickery.
And who could blame her?
The Russian strongman, a political rockstar in this country, was already all around us on giant TV screens as we sat in the lavish, if hastily constructed, Far Eastern Federal University. Leaders virtually never make unscheduled appearances in the media centres of these big summits and never ever eat at the cafeteria.
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Don’t bother trying to purchase any of Pussy Riot’s music on iTunes. I tried again yesterday and there’s still nothing.
Given that we live in an era where even Buy Nothing Day has merchandise, it seems shocking that the most famous feminist punk band in the 2012 megaverse is failing to cash in on its extraordinary notoriety.
This, after all, is the all-grrrl collective currently scoring 247 million hits on the Google search engine. The band whose celebrity mosh pit includes Björk, Courtney Love and Yoko Ono. The Russian rockers whose conviction and jailing on charges of hooliganism have been loudly condemned by the US, Britain, France and no small number of Amnesty International flash mobs.
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“I now have mixed feelings about this trial. On the one hand, we expect a guilty verdict. Compared to the judicial machine, we are nobodies, and we have lost. On the other hand, we have won. The whole world now sees that the criminal case against us has been fabricated. The system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial.” - Yekaterina Samutsevich, Pussy Riot.
On February 21, 2012, just two weeks before the presidential elections, the Russian punk band and performance art group Pussy Riot performed ‘Punk worship’ Mother of God, Drive Putin Out. This politically controversial song was made all the more provocative by being performed in the Christ the Savior Cathedral one of the holiest in Russian Orthodoxy.
These events led to police opening a criminal file on 26 February and in early March the band members were arrested. This was followed by a prosecution for the crime of hooliganism – the verdict is due tomorrow.
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Welcome to this week’s I Call Bullshit, a regular column on spin, pseudoscience and shenanigans. It’s a hairy one this week – does Yeti exist?
On a research trip to a remote Russian mountain this week, scientists found some hair and a footprint – and a ‘presumed bed’ - and declared they were now 95 per cent sure the mythical Yeti lives.
The Yeti legend is of a big, ape-like creature roaming the Siberian tundra, with wild fur but a hairless face. Reports of sightings crop up with Roswellian frequency – and coincidentally there have been several reports of alien bodies and UFO crash sites in the ‘hood as well.
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And so now we’re selling uranium to the Russians. Juggling the morning madness of kids, breakfast, dogs and work, the news item relayed via my tinny trannie was easy to miss and at first didn’t register. And then the irony of it all hit me like a shovel between the eyes.
It is very, very, hard to convey to Gen Y what it was like coming of age in the late ‘seventies and early ‘eighties - before we were called Gen X, before mobile phones and before the internet.
It’s hard to make them understand what it was like living everyday thinking that it could be your last, thinking you were seconds away from being annihilated in atomic cataclysm launched by those Godless Soviets.
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Nuclear warfare isn’t as popular as it used to be. There was a time when it was on everybody’s lips, from the cheery family man stocking up a bomb shelter to fresh-faced children learning to crouch under desks.
That old-fashioned pine was the best defence against hydrogen bombs was a bone of contention between engineers and education departments for years.
The Cold War was a time when the world was an uncomplicated place. Red was bad. Smoking was good.
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