In The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order Samuel P. Huntington placed Russia in the “Orthodox” civilization, as opposed to the “Western” class. Over 20 years since the collapse of the Communist bloc I think one must say that Huntington’s typology captured some essential aspect of reality. The Czech Republic has much reverted back to the small liberal democratic nation it was before World War II. In contrast, Russia’s philo-American 1990s under democratic neoliberalism was a transitory affair. Vladimir Putin’s Russia has shifted back toward a stereotypical authoritarianism.
And yet Andrew’s reference to Fremen’s act of sacrilege did make to realize that the Russians are different, but not that different. Imagine if you will that some women engaged in similar acts in India or the Islamic world. Obviously they would not dare unless they had a death wish. And that is a difference which unites Russia and the West: religious offense is not a matter of violent retribution. The women of the Pussy Riot collective were lucky that they did what they did in Russia, and not Iran. In a Muslim country they might have been torn limb from limb by enraged believers on the spot.