Russia Makes Treason Law Easier to Apply, Pussy Riot Members Speak From Behind Bars

#Politics

Tue, Sep 25th, 2012 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

Reportedly, being found guilty for treason was hard to do in Russia. It seems like you needed this weird thing called evidence, proving that "hostile intent was used by defense as an argument to release suspects and defendants from criminal responsibility." If Russia's new treason law passes, it'll be far easier to send someone to jail for up to 20 years.

The law will criminalize providing "financial, material, consultative, or other assistance" to foreign or international organizations if the court rules that these activities are damaging to Russia's security (the current wording is "international security," but the word "international" will be dropped to make the law easier to apply). As part of the same package, the Duma also voted to amend the laws on espionage and on state secrets. Among other things, it will now be illegal to obtain classified information even if it has not been shared with a foreign power or anyone else -- a terrifying prospect considering that Russia has a long-standing tradition of classifying all sorts of information that would be publicly available in many countries (precise road maps are one example).

Meanwhile, GQ magazine managed to sneak in an interview with members of Pussy Riot, currently in prison accomodations that sound like something out of Dr. Zhivago. No Internet, no news, no connection to the outside world, the members "only vaguely aware of their global celebrity."

GQ: What is your average day like now? How do you get the news from the outside?

Masha: They have small, medium, and large cells here. We're in three different small ones. Only the large cells have in-room showers; we get showers once a week. After 6 a.m., you're not allowed to sleep under a blanket. Theoretically, until lights-out at 10 p.m., you're not allowed to sleep at all, but in practice you can lie on top of the blanket and cover yourself with your coat. Nobody can explain why; the only answer you hear to any question is "That's the rule" and "We keep to a regimen here." Every day there's an hour-long walk in a "yard," which is a concrete box with two benches and a sliver of sky between a cement wall and a plastic roof. It's all "Hug the wall" this and "Hands behind your back" that. They search our cells regularly and confiscate our drawings and notes. Why? "The rules." Pretty much the only news we get is from federal TV channels. Only now do I realize the sheer amount of lies and censorship there. When you have the Internet, you don't feel it as sharply. But once a week our lawyers bring us different news, words of support, and that helps a lot.

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