The History of Soviet “Hooliganism”
On February 21, 2012, five members of the all-girl punk rock group, Pussy Riot, staged a “punk prayer” inside one of Russia’s most prominent Orthodox Churches. In their protest, which lasted mere moments, the group members denounced what they perceived as Vladimir Putin’s regime and his ties to the Orthodox community.
For their minor protest, which the Russian government labeled as “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”, the five women (two in absentia – they fled Russia) were each sentenced to two years in prison.
From the moment of their arrest, through their trial, and up to their subsequent sentencing, the ladies of Pussy Riot have had the backing of almost the entire Western world. World leaders from the United States, France, Britain, and the European Union called the ladies sentence “disproportionate”. Musicians including Madonna, Sting, Paul McCartney, and Peter Gabriel came out in support of the women in an effort to use their celebrity to affect change. Amnesty International even got involved. It was to no avail. Apparently, hooliganism is a big deal in Russia, but what exactly is it?
What is Hooliganism?
An accepted definition of hooliganism is a group of people (usually youth) who join together to commit illegal acts of violence, including damaging property and injuring others. Some define hooliganism in more general terms as simply violent or destructive behavior. In Russia, however, the definition of hooliganism is a bit different. It is defined as an “average gravity” crime. In other words, it carries a broad definition that can easily be applied to any number of actions, whether destructive or not.
In an interview with the Toronto Star, Brian LaPierre, author of Hooligan’s in Khrushchev’s Russia, said the charge of hooliganism is now the “go-to instrument for Russian governments who want to get things done and stigmatize a certain social group. That’s now political protestors, environmentalists or anyone seen to be outside the cultural mainstream.” His words seem to reflect current Russian events with precision.
More Charges of Hooliganism
On September 18, 2013, 30 occupants of the ship “Arctic Sunrise”, were arrested by the Russian Coast Guard after having their ship seized outside of an oil rig off the coast of Russia. The group included 28 Greenpeace activists, a British videographer and a Russian photographer. They were stationed near the oil rig because they were protesting arctic oil drilling. Known as the “Arctic 30”, the group was initially charged with piracy and hooliganism. However, in part because of international pressure, the piracy charge was dropped. The 30 protesters still face up to seven years in prison each for the charge of hooliganism. In an October 23, 2013press release, Vladimir Chuprov of Greenpeace Russia called the charges “disproportionate”, saying “They arrived at that oil rig in a ship painted with a dove and a rainbow.”
Russian performance artist, Petr Pavlensky, nailed his scrotum to the street in Red Square outside the Kremlin walls on November 10, 2013. In a statement posted at www.themoscowtimes.com, Mr. Pavlensky said he did it in protest of the “police state” and that it was “a metaphor for the apathy, political indifference, and fatalism of contemporary Russian society.” Originally charged with disorderly conduct which leads to a potential 15-day jail sentence and a 1,000 ruble fine (about $30 U.S.), he has since seen the charge escalate to hooliganism. Mr. Pavlenesky now faces seven years in prison.
To many observers, those who have been charged with and convicted of hooliganism in Russia face “disproportionate” sentences. In other words, for the individuals facing such charges, the punishment does not fit the crime. Still others see something more sinister at play. Personal expression, even if it’s against the establishment, is a universal right that should be protected, not punished.
“Sippin’ on Some Sizzurp” Can Leave You Sittin’ in a Cell
Sizzurp is one of a number of slang terms used for a potent prescription strength cough syrup. Other names for the drug include purple drank, lean, and purple jelly, among others. There are also several potential drug combinations that, when mixed together, can produce a variation of sizzurp. But, the most popular recreational use combination is codeine and the prescription antihistamine promethazine because it’s considered to be the most potent. Regardless of the drug combination, however, sizzurp is a controlled substance and, unless it’s been prescribed to you, sizzurp is illegal. It’s also illegal to drive while under the influence of sizzurp, even if you have a prescription.
Sizzurp Drug Classification
Separate from promethazine, codeine is classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a schedule II drug, though when combined with other drugs it can fall anywhere between a schedule I and a schedule V drug on the DEA schedule list. Prescription cough syrups are currently classified as schedule V drugs. However, depending on the amount of codeine in the drug combination, the sizzurp could be classified as high as a schedule III drug. This is important because the higher the schedule number the more serious the illegal possession charges.
Sizzurp and the Law
Since there aren’t any laws that currently exist to distinguish the use of sizzurp from any other controlled substance, federal and state sentencing guidelines for the cough syrup would fall in line with the federally mandated drug schedules. Since sizzurp is a controlled substance, you will be arrested and charged with a DUI if you’re caught driving under the influence of it. What happens to you from that point is going to depend on several factors. These include:
Valid prescription: If you have a valid prescription, you will not be charged with any laws related to illegal possession of a controlled substance. If you don’t have a prescription, and the bottle is in your possession, you will be charged based on the content of the syrup. The higher the codeine content the more serious the charges.
Level of Intoxication: If you appear to be slightly drowsy to the officer who stopped you, but you have a valid prescription for the drug, it’s not unheard of that you could be released without formal charges (though you may be required to call someone to pick you up). However, if you appear to be inebriated (slurred speech, inability to pass sobriety tests), you will be charged with a DUI regardless of whether or not you have a valid prescription.
Reason for Stop: If you are pulled over by the police because they suspect you are driving while impaired, you could face charges relevant to the outcome of the investigation. However, if you were involved in an at-fault accident and you are found to have been driving under the influence of sizzurp, you will face additional, more serious charges, just as you would for being under the influence of any other controlled substance. Those charges will be dependent upon property damage and whether or not your actions resulted in injury or death to others.
Each state differs related to DUI/DWI laws. If you are under the influence of sizzurp while you’re driving, you will face criminal charges just as you would for being under the influence of any other controlled substance. Additionally, just as with any other controlled substance, you will face even more severe charges if you don’t have a prescription for the cough syrup.
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