From Pussy Riot's 'punk prayer' to Matilda: Orthodox believers, critique, and religious freedom in Russia

Dmitry Uzlaner, Kristina Stoeckl
2019 Journal of Contemporary Religion  
This article analyses the configurations of belief, critique, and religious freedom in Russia since the performance of the Russian group Pussy Riot in 2012. The 'punk prayer' and its legal and political aftermath are interpreted as an incidence of the contestation of the boundary between the secular and the religious in the Russian legal and social sphere. The authors show that the outcome of this contestation has had a decisive impact on the way in which religion, critique, and the human right
more » ... of religious freedom have been defined in the present Russian context. In response to Pussy Riot, the Russian legislator turned offending religious feelings into a crime. The article investigates two more recent cases where offended feelings of believers were involved, the opera "Tannhäuser" in Ekaterinburg in 2015 and the movie Matilda in 2017, and analyses how the initial power-conforming configuration that emerged as a reply to the 'punk prayer' has revealed a 'power-disturbing' potential as conservative Orthodox groups have started to challenge the authority of the State and the Church leadership. The article is based on primary sources from Russian debates surrounding Pussy Riot, Matilda, and "Tannhäuser" and on theoretical literature on the religious-secular boundary and human rights. ARTICLE HISTORY
doi:10.1080/13537903.2019.1658432 fatcat:nlsxtyisive2xfa5ru6ksssmva