September 1 is Knowledge Day in Russia, a big cultural holiday marking the beginning of the school year. Legislators prepared a special gift for the kids this year, introducing radical new ways to protect them from "detrimental information."
Pussy Riot's performance was widely discussed in Russia (unlike other acts of dissidence) with controversy and passion. Some believed that the foundations of the state had been attacked by public criticism, condemned the "blasphemy" and demanded punishment.
The trial of Pussy Riot has concluded today as expected -- a "not guilty" verdict was not an option for the Kremlin-controlled court that happily engaged in a politically motivated circus in which canon law took precedence over the constitution.
Laughing mockery of power may let off steam. But it may also be a sign of something consequential: that many Russians, audacious and without fear, feel that Putinism has become an embarrassment and a hindrance.
There is renewed hope that Mikhail Khodorkovsky may one day breathe the air of freedom. And yet, the bizarre posthumous trial of Sergei Magnitsky, is a chilling reminder that the Russian winter is by no means over.
The backlash happening today in Moscow is a combination of the tea party movement and Occupy Wall Street. Anarchists stand side-by-side with great-power nationalists; libertarians and old-style communists protest in rough unison.
On the streets of Moscow the protesters chanted: "We exist!" Everywhere, the "we" couldn't be broader, often remarkably, even strategically, ill defined: 99% of humanity containing so many potentially conflicting strains of thought and being.