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the words worth: The Pussy Riot Act

Published: August 8, 2012 (Issue # 1721)


: blasphemy

I have been reluctant towade intothe linguistic morass ofthe Pussy Riot case mostly because Im not aspecialist inreligious or legal terminology. But I finally gave into my curiosity anddecided toread (indictment).

Half apage intoit, thelegal language was pretty clear, but my desk was covered with reference books onchurch andreligious terminology. If youre trying tofollow thecase, it may be helpful tounderstand afew ofthe recurring terms.

First, where theaction took place. Inan Orthodox church, theraised platform infront ofthe iconostasis is (solea). Thesection ofthe solea infront ofthe royal doors is called (ambon).

Then, thecast ofwitnesses: (sacristan, ecclesiarch) is theperson incharge ofcaring forthe church building andits property. (altar server) is alayperson that helps atthe altar during theservices. is awoman selling candles.

Andnow forthe big accusations thereligious ones, I mean. Three words andtheir derivatives pop out throughout thetext: C, and, all ofwhich are translated as sacrilege, blasphemy, profanity or desecration. After cross-checking church translations anddipping intopre-revolutionary law, I think I would translate as desecration, which involves some kind ofviolation ofchurch property. It was theworst ofthe pre-revolutionary Russian religious crimes andcarried thedeath penalty forcenturies. Id translate as blasphemy and as sacrilege.

This is important toknow as you read thelegal documents because although theaccusation is couched inlegal terms, thesupporting evidence is largely presented inreligious terms.

Thewomen are accused ofcommitting anact of, , , - , (hooliganism, that is, agross violation ofpublic order expressing aclear disrespect forsociety, committed onthe grounds ofreligious hatred or enmity or hate against aparticular social group bya group ofpersons byprior agreement).

What did they do? According towitness testimony which is exactly thesame, word forword, page after page their behavior was , (unbefitting, andin fact violated all imaginable andunimaginable, commonly accepted rules ofbehavior ina church). They put onclothing (that clearly andobviously contradicted church rules). Then they , , , , , (started tosatanically jerk around, jump, run, kick their legs up, twirl their heads while they shouted very insulting, blasphemous words).

According tothe indictment, this led to (a violation ofthe feelings andfaith ofmany Orthodox Christians anda defilement ofthe spiritual basis ofthe state).

After reading theindictment andfollowing thetrial, Ive come tothe conclusion that thespiritual basis ofthe state may indeed have been defiled, but not byPussy Riot.

Michele A. Berdy, a Moscow-based translator and interpreter, is author of The Russian Words Worth (Glas), a collection of her columns.





 


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Thursday, Apr. 17


Expocenter Eurasia at 13 Ulitsa Kapitan Voronin is the sight of Goods on the Way, a five-day event starting today showcasing the latest in the industrial products industry. Bags, backpacks, swimsuits and much, much more will be available to attendees hoping to update not only their style but their accessories for the upcoming summer.


Friday, Apr. 18


Teachers and students alike shouldnt miss the opportunity to establish lasting contacts with Russian and foreign institutions during the 21st Education and Career Fair at LenExpo, beginning today and finishing tomorrow. Learn more about education in Russia and connect with your fellow scholars.


The Tromso International Film Festival, Norways largest, brings a short festival to St. Petersburg for one day only during Scandinavian Oddities, starting at 7 p.m. today at Rodina Cinema Center. Tickets for the event are 100 rubles ($2.80).


Sunday, Apr. 20


Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianitys holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the deserts most iconic plant.


Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDAs Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBAs Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.