Putin is no pussy cat

Putin shows insecurity through treatment of dissident singers.

 

How sad a man is Russian President Vladimir Putin? How insecure must he be that he feels so threatened by a female punk rock trio that he has them arrested for ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’?

Old Vlad must have been burning the midnight oil (much like our own dear leader Stephen Harper in those campaign commercials) to even find something to charge the three young women with. Pussy Riot is the name of the band and as most of the world knows, they took to a Russian cathedral last March to sing a song begging the Virgin Mary to deliver Russia from Putin.

And they were arrested. During the trial, the prosecutor accused them of scaring the faithful with ‘devilish movements’.

They were sentenced to two years last Friday.

Seems like the Salem witch trials are being repeated in Russia.

Let us take a moment to ponder the psychology of one Vladimir Putin.

He won a democratic election as he ascended to the Russian presidency. I’ll give him that. Russia was in turmoil after the Yeltsin years and many longed for a strong leader to take the reins. They got more than they bargained for. They got a man who refused to give up on power after his term ended, and a constitutional amendment required, instead installing a puppet President and assuming the reins as Prime Minister. He then ‘won’ another Presidential election last spring. Wonder what he’s going to pull off to get another term in power after this one ends? He was probably pondering that while dreaming up charges against Pussy Riot.

Putin is fond of parading about on a horse with his shirt off, so we know he’s got an ego. And that’s where he just might be vulnerable. I think international opinion matters to him. I think he wants to be seen as strong – yet beloved – by the world.

When in London for the Olympics, Putin even put it out there that he hoped the courts would be lenient on Pussy Riot, the Church was calling for a harsher sentence. I guess in Russia, two years for singing is lenient. Of course Putin has no control over the courts. If you believe that I’ve got a used Lada I’d love to sell you.

But how is Putin going to feel about Madonna and Paul McCartney speaking out against him? The Red Hot Chili Peppers are mad at him too. I don’t think Vlad is going to enjoy this very much.

The Pussy Riot scandal has also re-energized Russian opposition, whose leaders are very much aware, and probably even moreso now, how dangerous it can be to oppose Vlad.

One of the most outspoken anti-Putin voices is that of former world chess champion Garry Kasparov. He protested outside the court where Pussy Riot was sentenced last Friday. A brave man, Kasparov. I heard an interview with him once a few years ago and it was easy to understand why he was so good at chess. His grasp of geo-politics was astounding, his understanding of how and why Putin was doing what he was, very keen. And his love for Russia was clear.

There were reports that Kasparov was arrested Friday.

So Putin is in a bit of a spot. He can probably keep the hammer down in Russia, but internationally his image is taking a huge hit. Protest concerts are being arranged worldwide. The most famous of the famous are calling him out.

When your ego is such that you like to send pictures of your bare-chested self on horseback out worldwide, that’s got to sting a little.

How will he respond? I fear for Russia if his instinct is to get mad.