The performance-artist Pyotr Pavlensky sewed his mouth shut to protest the recent treatment of members of the Russian punk collective “Pussy Riot.”(1) The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, has made his own statement regarding the group, describing them as “doing the work of Satan” and demanding they be harshly punished for their outrageous behaviour on February 21st of this year.(2)

St. Mary, Virgin, drive away Putin!

Drive him away! Drive away Putin!

Pussy Riot have come to the attention of the Russian authorities on occasions prior to the “Prayer Incident”: Youtube footage(3) shows their fondness for the guerrilla-gig, shows them setting up in streets and shops to howl their songs and let off fire-extinguishers, start fires, release balloons, throw confetti… Their most righteous performance – at least until February 21st – has to have been two months prior to that when they staged an impromptu gig outside Moscow’s “Detention Centre 1”: over a thousand people were arrested at demonstrations protesting Vlad Putin’s success in dubious elections(4) and Pussy Riot, armed with guitars and microphones and glowing-steaming emergency-flares, turned up outside barbed-wire windows to serenade the political-prisoners in their cages.(5) The multi-billionaire Patriarch Kirill had something to add on this matter too, telling his flock: “Orthodox Christians don’t go on demonstrations.”(6)

Black robes, golden shoulders;

Parishioners crawl and bow, unbrained:

Freedom only in your afterlife!

Gay Pride’s sent to Siberia in chains.

Pussy Riot are a bunch of girl-gang diamond-dog mobsters although it’s possible that a few male transvestites may have sneaked in there, it’s hard to tell for sure, they wear dresses but they also wear balaclavas, the total hoodie with just slits for eyes and mouth. This look was in part influenced by Mexican wrestling, Lucha Libra; it also suggests the niqab, the face that has to hide(7); the primary visual reference though is of course the terrorist but that connotation is subverted by the fact that Pussy Riot’s balaclavas are in gorgeous primarybright colours, these are camp commandos from a glad army, these are the assassins we dreamed of, LGBTerror, perfectly contrasted not just with the church’s own fancy-dress but also the church’s thugs, their “Orthodox Banner-Bearer” militias who roam dressed in black clothes emblazoned with not one but a trinity of skulls plus crossed bones. Patriarch Kirill wears a $30,000 watch. His underlings were caught airbrushing it out of photos.

The KGB boss is their chief saint,

He leads protesters to the prison-cells.

In order not to offend the Holy One,

Women, shut up! give birth! purchase chemical smells!

Shit, shit, the Lord’s shit!

Shit, shit, the Lord’s shit!

Kirill, the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, ex-KGB, has described the Putin era as “a miracle of God”(2) but not everyone’s feeling it: on Feb 21st Pussy Riot stormed the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, occupied an area in front of the lavish gleaming altars and belted out their “Punk Prayer” before getting arrested and charged with hooliganism.(8) A number of members of the collective, aided by anonymity, remain at large, but three women, two of them mothers, have been held without bail in pre-trial detention ever since: by the time that trial concludes they will have spent six months in jail; their act of blasphemy could earn them seven years.

St. Mary, Virgin, become a feminist!

Become a feminist! Become a feminist!

The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour contains halls that are rented out for corporate functions; the building also has “jewellery and souvenir stands, a food-joint, dry-cleaner and car-wash…”(9)

The Church praises the rotten dictators,

The black limo procession of the holy.

In school you’re gonna meet with a teacher-preacher,

Go to class – bring him money!

Pussy Riot aren’t the only ones who’ve been complaining, nor the only ones who’ve got into trouble: the gold-decked Church, consecrating nuclear-missiles and urging the young to volunteer for military-service,(10) has not proved popular with certain segments of the population, and in recent years art-exhibitions such as “Beware Of Religion!” and “Forbidden Art-2006” have raised the alarm: the totalitarian impulse is alive and well in Russia. The Orthodox responded to pictures portraying Jesus as Mickey Mouse etc. with not just denunciations (“conscious Satanism”)(11) but also lawsuits: the courts found the gallery-owners guilty of fuelling national and religious hatred and humiliation of human dignity.(12) It won’t end there, not in the courts nor even the prisons: rebellious youth have been protesting recently by wearing Pussy Riot-style masks to school, to town, and, of course, to church…

The Patriarch believes in Putin;

Bitch, you better believed in God!

The Virgin’s belt can’t replace protest:

Blessed Mary with us in the mob!

“We have no future if we allow mocking in front of great shrines, and if some see such mocking as some sort of valour, as an expression of political protest, as an acceptable action or a harmless joke,” the Patriarch has said of Pussy Riot’s riot as he agitates for new laws against blasphemy.(13) Pyotr Pavlensky, his mouth sewn shut, responded with a solitary vigil outside St. Petersburg’s Kazan Cathedral, he held a placard, the words on which offered a stern reminder that loudly denouncing the proximity of money-men to the Temple is by no means a new idea…

St. Mary, Virgin, drive away Putin!

Drive him away! Drive away Putin!

(1) http://rt.com/art-and-culture/news/artist-sews-mouth-riot-941/

(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirill_I_of_Moscow

(3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZUhkWiiv7M

(4) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16122524

(5) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmyZbJpYV0I&feature=plcp

(6) http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/tikhon-dzyadko/russian-orthodox-church-from-farce-to-tragedy

(7) Tangentially, why is it that the burqa is most commonly – though certainly not always – black? Could it have something to do with the fact that it is most commonly – though certainly not always – imposed in countries that are very very hot?

(8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpGP1_H0K-A&feature=related

(9) http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120604/173845193.html

(10) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/10239972

(11) http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/9/3.aspx

(12) http://en.rian.ru/russia/20100712/159769504.html

(13) http://rt.com/art-and-culture/news/pussy-riot-clash-patriarch-567/


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