Pussy Rioters Debating Europe

Is Putin’s Russia just misunderstood by the West?

Pussy

Relations between Russia and the EU are a tad strained at the moment. Following violent clashes between pro-Russian gunmen and Ukrainian special forces, Russian President Vladimir Putin recently warned that he hopes he will not have to exercise his “right” to send troops into the country.

 

[Here Putin uses the word “right.” It is his “right” to send Russian troops into neighboring Ukraine. At one point didn’t we send troops into Mexico? Didn’t everyone feel it was our “right” to do so? Well, not everyone.]
 
[One has rights. Putin has rights as the leader of Russia, and if he sees that Russia is threatened by the actions of a neighbor, even a sovereign independent country like Russia herself, isn’t it his right, if not duty, to meet that threat? The threat, of course, was Russia being encircled by western democracies, led by Europe, America, and NATO armies.]

 

The standoff represents possibly the most serious international security crisis the European Union has ever faced.We recently spoke to Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, two members of the band Pussy Riot who both served 21 months in prison for staging an impromptu protest concert in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The severity of their sentences prompted Amnesty International to name them “prisoners of conscience” – and they are both outspoken critics of Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.

 

We started with a comment from Lata, who argued that Russian standards of living have increased since Putin came to power. Is Putin’s Russia really such a bad place to live, or is Western media misrepresenting the facts? How would Nadezhda and Maria respond?

 

Next, we had a comment from Andries, who thought it was time for Europe to send a signal to Russia that it is headed in the wrong direction:

Russia is descending more and more into a dictatorial, mono-cultural, discriminatory and closed society that shows not an ounce of respect for universal human rights, for minorities, nor for any form of democracy. Europe should send a very clear signal that we will not tolerate this.

Did they agree? And what sort of “clear signal” could Europe send? Particularly as the EU depends on Russia for so much of its oil and gas imports?

Finally, we had a comment sent in from Catherine, who thought that Putin was unfairly criticised by LGBT rights campaigners:

My understanding is that Russia simply does not want schools to be inundated with the ins and outs of Gay pride and adoption of children into what Russians see as unacceptable [partnerships]. Freedom of choice must remain with Russia and the Russian people on this matter. Europe has to respect the rights of states to choose.

What would Nadezhda and Maria say to Catherine’s comment?

 

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