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Pussy Riot, the WTO, and a Clash of Civilizations

Author: Anya Schmemann, Director, Task Force Program
August 23, 2012
Council on Foreign Relations

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This is a guest post by Anya Schmemann on the blog, "The Water's Edge."

The plight of three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot has received widespread international attention. The young women were given two-year jail terms last week for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" after they performed a profane anti-Putin "punk prayer" in front of the altar of Moscow's main cathedral several months ago.

Many supporters, including musicians such as Madonna and Paul McCartney, have joined demonstrations and appealed for their release. The Obama administration and other Western governments have called the sentences disproportionate.

The Russian government, however, has denounced the criticism as politically motivated. A Russian spokesman said in a statement, "The case has served only as an occasion for the latest wave of rushed, biased, and politically charged evaluations." In a show of contempt, a Russian embassy official in Washington, DC, dumped 70,000 petitions gathered by Amnesty International on the curb.

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