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The Innocence of Pussy Riot

Published time: October 26, 2012 11:11
Edited time: October 26, 2012 15:11
Russia's President Vladimir Putin enters a hall to take part in a meeting of the Valdai international discussion group of experts at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on October 25, 2012. (AFP Photo / Sergei Karpukhin)

Russia's President Vladimir Putin enters a hall to take part in a meeting of the Valdai international discussion group of experts at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on October 25, 2012. (AFP Photo / Sergei Karpukhin)

President Putin says insulting religious feeling should be punished and one rule applies to all as he drew a parallel between the Russian Pussy riot punk band and the anti-Muslim film produced in America.

Pussy Riot

Alexander Rahr, Advisor to the President, Russian-German Chamber of Commerce says: “President Putin called on western colleagues to be more objective on the issue. He said if the west does not approve the sending of the Pussy Riot punk band members to labor camps why is the guy who made “The innocence of Muslims” sitting in prison?”

The parallel’s been drawn many times already, but it only works when President Putin says it in person apparently, because the question is being raised again and again. And no one apparently bothers to explain the difference between the two cases, but I guess the whole point of double “double standards” – there’s no logic in it.

President Putin seemed to have found a way to make answering the question over and over again less boring. He repeatedly asked foreign journalists (based in Russia/Russian speaking) to translate the name of the band into Russian, wondering whether it makes them uncomfortable at all. But no one chose to do so. It doesn’t make Pussy Riot guilty of anything but being foul mouthed; still… no one seems to be guilty of even that.

Favorite question number two

Whether it was the informal tone of the meeting or the nine-course dinner, members of the Valdai discussion club came out looking rather content. They say they expected the Russian President to be much more vague about the few political questions that they had to ask, but according to them Putin was “very confident”. In fact they had nothing to criticize the Russian President over regarding any political issues. Talking about the country’s “raging” opposition and protests they quoted him: “President says he’s ratings are higher and the opposition has to prove its credibility first. He also added that soon the Russian government will satisfy all tastes as there will be more space for various political parties and beliefs.”

It’s very probable and not at all unexpected that some discussions club members may be making slightly different comments about the policies of the Russian President once back home.

The waiting room

The annual meeting preserves the traditions of “sarcasm” in the waiting press room. Everyone who comes to Novo-Ogarevo for the first time has to make a joke about “Putin being late” and both the newcomers and old timers burst into tears of laughter. Old regulars shoot back with “Putin’s third term” jokes. The jokes like the questions seem to never get old or flat.

The Valdai international discussion club is a group of leading experts from around the world that debate about Russia and its role in the world and the global economy. Set up in 2004 its mission is to exchange opinions and discuss them with Russian leaders.

Novikova Nathalie, RT correspondent

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