Russian Orthodox Church Says a Pussy Riot Apology Would Be Nice

Even though the Russian Orthodox Church was livid at Pussy Riot for putting on a spontaneous free concert in Christ the Savior Cathedral, it has since dialed back its finger wagging, insisting that if the incarcerated members of Pussy Riot are really, really sorry, well, then they've clearly learned an important lesson and should be released from their cells forthwith. On Monday, a Russian court is expected to both hear (and decide on) the jail punk rockers' appeal of their two-year prison sentence.

Though some observers believed that the Pussy Riot band members were being extra punished for their "disrespect" of Russia's Orthodox church, the church seems to be playing good cop on the eve of the appeal, hoping with unctuous sincerity that Pussy Riot is truly repentant for playing music in a space designated for talking obliquely to Jesus. Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida put it like this:

The church sincerely desires remorse for the desecration of a holy place, convinced that it will benefit their souls. And since the point of punishment is correction, if the words of the tried will show evidence of remorse, and a rethinking of what they did, we would not want that to be ignored.

The three imprisoned members of Pussy Riot did, in fact, apologize during their whirlwind trial for any offense their performance may have cause, but the church seems to understand that this isn't a real apology, and would appreciate an apology that totally nullifies pretty much everything the band was protesting in the first place. And then, hey, if they don't get out of prison (the band's lawyers aren't optimistic that the sentence will be struck down), they'll at least get right with the tone deaf god currently squatting in Christ the Savior Cathedral.

Meanwhile, a more troubling development seems to be afoot in the Kremlin. According to the Daily Beast, Konstantin Goloskov, the leader of a special-investigations unit created in the Kremlin-created youth movement called Nashi, says that he has identified what he has described as the six remaining members of Pussy Riot. Reports claim that Goloskov personally financed the hunt for these six remaining band members, and show that Nashi has become an effective tool for Putin's government, marshalling fresh young faces to march in Moscow and support Putin even as the opposition protests Putin's seemingly limitless power. Members of Nashi have various motivations for joining (including the free bus ride to and accommodations in Moscow), but the most devoted "commissars" (such as Goloskov) can enjoy municipal and national parliament seats.

According to Alyona Popova, a start-up entrepreneur interviewed by the Daily Beast, Nashi is simply trying to stir the pot and divide the Russian people. "The witch hunt-a Russian version of McCarthyism-would result in the radicalization of informers, everyone telling on each other," Popova said. "Nashi is provoking a fight between Russians." The Daily Beast further explains that Goloskov will help Putin save face by finding the six at-large Pussy Rioters, though no one is quite sure that this search has been anything more than a witch hunt. Manny young Russians who have watched Putin tighten his grip on power see Goloskov's efforts for what they most likely are — a fabricated game of cops and robbers through which Putin can increase his patriotic prestige within Russia.

Russian court to hear Pussy Riot appeal [The Guardian]

Russian church urges Pussy Riot members to repent [CBS]

Pussy Riot Witchunt by Kremlin-Backed Youth Movement [TDB]