In a follow-up to a prominent story from a year and a half ago, covered on these pages by Yours Truly, and by Christopher Carr, the two imprisoned members of Pussy Riot have been granted amnesty and released from prison, apparently as part of the spit-polish of Russia’s image as a global sanctuary for civil liberties (a rather hamfisted one, IMO) the lead-up to the imminent Winter Olympics in Sochi.
It’s good that they are free, and interesting to note that they are quick to call their own releases window dressing rather than substantively good things. Query as to the degree to which global attention placed political pressure on the Russian government, and in particular its
Tsar* President, to take steps towards at least appearing to be a meaningfully liberal democracy.
One cannot help but wonder how this sort of thing might be kept up after the Olympics are gone, and whether it would actually accomplish meaningful change. It did seem to help in South Africa a generation ago.
* The Russian word “царь” is also sometimes transliterated into English as “Czar,” which in turn is a corruption of the Latin name “Cæsar.” Which would have been pronounced in classical times in a word very similar to the former German title “Kaiser.” The shadows of the past are long indeed.
[MikeS: I took the liberty of converting Burt’s Cyrillic characters to HTML entities, using the handy-dandy tool at http://www.textfixer.com/html/html-character-encoding.php]