Risky protests

Yesterday’s World Cup final was interesting in more ways than one:

Protest group Pussy Riot, long a thorn in Vladimir Putin’s side, claimed responsibility Sunday for four people who brought the World Cup final to a brief halt by running onto the field dressed in police uniforms… Stewards tackled the three women and one man who charged onto the field simultaneously in the 52nd minute…

Predictably, the trailing team, short of time, was not happy with the interference:

Croatia defender Dejan Lovren pushed the man, helping a steward to detain him, and suggested the incident put Croatia off its game.

On the other hand, the soon-to-be winners didn’t seem to mind too much:

Before being hauled away, one of the women reached the center of the field and shared a double high-five with France forward Kylian Mbappe.

To think of it, Mbappé is only nineteen – he was born a few months after France’s 1998 triumph… Whether he saw the point of the incursion or not, he played along in good spirit. I didn’t grasp the point of the performance at once, to be honest, but the spurts were impressive. Later on, the group posted an explanatory statement…

 …acknowledging police had relaxed somewhat during the tournament but calling for greater restrictions on their powers.

“The World Cup has shown very well how well Russian policemen can behave… But what will happen when it ends?”

Regardless of its message, their stunt must have taken some courage, nerve and skill, and the downside risk was hardly negligible, judging by past experience. Likewise, the Greenpeace glide over the Turnberry hotel was not at all risk-free – the pilot could have been simply shot down on the grounds of security. I’m suspicious of Greenpeace’s true ends but protesters like these are not armchair warriors. That can make all the difference.

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