Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pussy Riot Update: The Opera by Ilya Demutsky and other stories: Mother Russia and The World are proud of their daughters! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot!

Published on Aug 14, 2013
Ilya Demutsky "The Closing Statement of the Accused" (with russian subtitles)
Оркестр Театра Комунале ди Болонья
Клара Каланна, меццо-сопрано
Хосе Рамон Энсинар, дирижер
Запись с премьеры на Гала-концерте Международного конкурса композиторов "2 Agosto"
Пьяцца Маджьоре, Болонья, Италия
2 августа 2013 г.
The statement is translated from Russian into English by Marijeta Bozovic, Maksim Hanukai, and Sasha Senderovich. Source:

The Russian-born composer Ilya Demutsky, outraged by the jailing of the Pussy Riot trio in Vladimir Putin’s prison state, wrote an opera titled, The Closing Statement of the Accused.  It won a composing prize in Bologna, was broadcast on Rai-3 and has gone on to win a medal from the President of the Republic. You’ll soon here why when you watch this 11-minute extract: the post-Mahlerian score is compelling, an irresistible ear-worm. We will hear more of Mr Demutsky. More background here.


The closing statements from Nadezhda Tolokonnikova at a trial. August 8, 2012. 

Published on Aug 8, 2012

More info -

English full version - The closing statements from Nadia #Pussyriot in trial 8 august 2012

Online broadcasting from a court hearing the case of #PussyRiot in Moscow. English version -

The closing statements from Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in trial. 8 august 2012

Yesterday (on the 7th of August according to the website Madonna's performance took place. Madonna performed with the inscription "Pussy Riot" on her back. More and more people see that we are kept in pre-trial prison illegally and because of absolutely false accusation. I am astounded by it. I am astounded by the fact that truth really triumphs over lie though we are physically here, in the cage. We are freer than all the people sitting opposite us on the side of the prosecution because we can say everything we want and we do it. As for people from the side of the prosecution, they say only words passed by political censor. They can't say such words as "punk-prayer" and "Virgin Mary, redeem us of Putin!" They can't say the lines from our punk-prayer that are related to political system. They probably think that another reason why we are to be put into prison is our rebel against Putin and his system. But they can't say it because they are prohibited to do it. Their mouths are sewn. Unfortunately, they are just puppets at this trial. I hope they will realize it and will also head for freedom, truth and sincerity because all this is more important than static nature, affected decency and hypocrisy.

Because we don't really have religious hatred, and never had it, our accusers have no choice but to resort to using a false witnesses. One of them - Motilda Ivashchenko -got ashamed and did not appear in court. And there is no more evidence of our hatred and enmity, in addition to this so-called expertise. Therefore, the court, if it would be honest and fair, must admit inadmissible evidence, due to the fact that this is not a rigorous scientific and objective text, rather dirty and mendacious piece of paper times of medieval inquisition.

Prosecution is ashamed to voice excerpts from lyrics by PussyRiot, because they are in fact the evidence of the lack of motive. I'll present you this excerpt here, I think it's very valuable. It's from the interview for the "Russian Reporter" magazine, that was given on the next day after the performance in the Chuch of Jesus The Savior: "We feel great respect to any religion and to orthodoxy in particular, that's why we're so distressed about that, so great and so positive as it is, Christian Philosophy is being used in such a filthy way. Our brain is getting blown out by that all this beauty is being now used from the back. All of this is quite painful to observe.

14:47 In the end I'd like to quote one of the Pussy Riot's songs, as if curiously enough all of them turned to be fateful. Including the one which says: "Head of the KGB, their major saint, guides the protesters to detention under escort".

15:06 And what I'm going to quote right now is this very line: "Open all doors, take off your shoulder straps, feel the air of freedom with us".

Free Pussy Riot Free Pussy Riot 

The closing statements from Maria Alyokhina at a trial. August 8, 2012. 

Published on Aug 13, 2012
More info -

Online broadcasting from a court hearing the case of #PussyRiot in Moscow. English version -

The closing statements from Maria Alyokhina in trial 8 august 2012
Khamovnichesky Courthouse, Moscow

This trial is highly typical and speaks volumes. The current government will have occasion to feel shame and embarrassment because of it for a long time to come. At each stage it has embodied a travesty of justice. As it turned out, our performance, at first a small and somewhat absurd act, snowballed into an enormous catastrophe. This would obviously not happen in a healthy society. Russia, as a state, has long resembled an organism sick to the core. And the sickness explodes out into the open when you rub up against its inflamed abscesses. At first and for a long time this sickness gets hushed up in public, but eventually it always finds resolution through dialogue. And look—this is the kind of dialogue that our government is capable of. This trial is not only a malignant and grotesque mask, it is the "face" of the government's dialogue with the people of our country. To prompt discussion about a problem on the societal level, you often need the right conditions —an impetus.

And it is interesting that our situation was depersonalized from the start. This is because when we talk about Putin, we have in mind first and foremost not Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin —but Putin the system, that he himself created: the power vertical, where all control is carried out effectively by one person. And that power vertical is uninterested, completely uninterested, in the opinion of the masses. And what worries me most of all is that the opinion of the younger generations is not taken into consideration. We believe that the ineffectiveness of this administration is evident in practically everything.

And right here, in this closing statement, I would like to describe my first-hand experience of running afoul of this system. Our schooling, which is where the personality begins to form in a social context, effectively ignores any particularities of the individual. There is no "individual approach," no study of culture, of philosophy, of basic knowledge about civic society. Officially, these subjects do exist, but they are still taught according to the Soviet model. And as a result, we see the marginalization of contemporary art in the public consciousness, a lack of motivation for philosophical thought, and gender stereotyping. The concept of the human being as a citizen gets swept away into a distant corner.

Today's educational institutions teach people, from childhood, to live as automatons. Not to pose the crucial questions consistent with their age. They inculcate cruelty and intolerance of nonconformity. Beginning in childhood, we forget our freedom.

I have personal experience with psychiatric clinics for minors. And I can say with conviction that any teenager who shows any signs of active nonconformity can end up in such a place. A certain percentage of the kids there are from orphanages.

In our country, it's considered entirely normal to commit a child who has tried to escape from an orphanage to a psychiatric clinic. And they treat them using extremely powerful sedatives like Aminazin, which was also used to subdue Soviet dissidents in the 70s.

This is especially traumatizing given the overall punitive tendency and the absence of any real psychological assistance. All interactions are based on the exploitation of the children's feelings of fear and forced submission. And as a result, their own cruelty increases many times over. Many children there are illiterate; but no one makes any effort to battle this—on the contrary, every last drop of motivation for personal development is discouraged. The individual closes off entirely and loses faith in the world.

I would like to note that this method of personal development clearly impedes the awakening of both inner and religious freedoms, unfortunately, on a mass scale. The consequence of the process I have just described is ontological humility, the existential humility of socialization. To me, this transition, or rupture, is noteworthy in that, if approached from the point of view of Christian culture, we see that meanings and symbols are being replaced by those that are diametrically opposed to them. Thus one of the most important Christian concepts, Humility, is now commonly understood not as a path towards the perception, fortification, and ultimate liberation of Man, but on the contrary as an instrument for his enslavement. To quote [Russian philosopher] Nikolai Berdyaev, one could say that "the ontology of humility is the ontology of the slaves of God, and not the sons of God."

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Pussy Riot: последнее слово обвиняемых

Мария Алехина: "Тюрьма — это Россия в миниатюре"

MA-240.jpgЭтот процесс показателен и красноречив. Не раз ещё власть будет краснеть за него и стыдиться. Каждый его этап — это квинтэссенция беспредела. Как вышло, что наше выступление, будучи изначально небольшим и несколько нелепым актом, разрослось до огромной беды. Очевидно, что в здоровом обществе такое невозможно. Россия как государство давно напоминает насквозь больной организм. И эта болезненность взрывается резонансом, когда задеваешь назревшие нарывы. Эта болезненность сначала долго и публично замалчивается. Но позже всегда находится разрешение через разговор. Смотрите, вот она, форма разговора, на который способна наша власть. Этот суд — не просто злая гротескная маска, это "лицо" разговора с человеком в нашей стране. На общественном уровне для разговора о проблеме часто нужна ситуация — импульс. 

И интересно, что наша ситуация уже изначально деперсонифицирована. Потому что, говоря о Путине, мы имеем в виду прежде всего не Владимира Владимировича Путина, но мы имеем Путина — как систему, созданную им самим. Вертикаль власти, где всё управление осуществляется практически вручную. И в этой вертикали не учитывается, совершенно не учитывается мнение масс. И, что больше всего меня волнует, не учитывается мнение молодых поколений. Мы считаем, что неэффективность этого управления проявляется практически во всём. 

И в этом последнем слове хочу вкратце описать мой непосредственный опыт столкновения с этой системой. Образование, из которого начинается становление личности в социуме, фактически игнорирует особенности этой личности. Отсутствует индивидуальный подход, отсутствует изучение культуры, философии, базовых знаний о гражданском обществе. Формально эти предметы есть. Но формы их преподавания наследует советский образец. И как итог, мы имеем маргинализацию современного искусства в сознании человека, отсутствие мотивации к философскому мышлению, гендерную стереотипизацию и отметание в дальний угол позицию человека как гражданина. 

Современные институты образования учат людей с детства жить автоматически. Не ставить ключевых вопросов с учетом возраста. Прививают жестокость и неприятие инакомыслия. Уже с детства человек забывает свою свободу. 

У меня есть опыт посещения психиатрического стационара для несовершеннолетних. И я с уверенностью говорю, что в таком месте может оказаться любой подросток, более или менее активно проявляющий инакомыслие. Часть детей, находящихся там, из детских домов. 

У нас в стране считается нормой попытавшегося сбежать из детдома ребенка положить в психбольницу. И осуществлять лечение сильнейшими успокоительными, такими, как, например, аминазин, который использовался ещё для усмирения советских диссидентов в 70-е годы. 

Это особенно травматично при общем карательном уклоне и отсутствии психологической помощи как таковой. Всё общение там построено на эксплуатации чувства страха и вынужденном подчинении этих детей. И как следствие, уровень их жестокости опять же вырастает в разы. Многие дети там безграмотные. Но никто не делает попыток бороться с этим. Напротив, отбивается последняя капля мотивации к развитию. Человек замыкается, перестаёт доверять миру. 

Хочу заметить, что подобный способ становления, очевидно, препятствует осознанию внутренних и в том числе религиозных свобод и носит массовый характер, к сожалению. Следствием такого процесса, как я только что описала, является онтологическое смирение, бытийное смирение социализации. Этот переход, или перелом, примечателен тем, что если воспринимать его в контексте христианской культуры, то мы видим, как подменяются смыслы и символы на прямо противоположные. Так, смирение, одна из важнейших христианских категорий, отныне понимается в бытийном смысле не как путь ощущения, укрепления и конечного освобождения человека, а напротив, как способ его порабощения. Цитируя Николая Бердяева, можно сказать: «Онтология смирения — это онтология рабов божьих, а не сынов божьих». Когда я занималась организацией экологического движения, окончательно сформировался у меня приоритет внутренней свободы как основы для действия. И также важность, вот непосредственная важность действия как такового. 

До сих пор мне удивительно, что в нашей стране требуется ресурс нескольких тысяч человек для прекращения произвола одного или горстки чиновников. Вот я хочу заметить, что наш процесс — это очень красноречивое подтверждение тому, что требуется ресурс тысяч людей по всему миру для того, чтобы доказать очевидное. То, что мы невиновны втроём. Мы невиновны, об этом говорит весь мир. Весь мир говорит на концертах, весь мир говорит в интернете, весь мир говорит в прессе. Об этом говорят в парламенте. Премьер-министр Англии приветствует нашего президента не словами об Олимпиаде, а вопросом: «Почему три невиновные девушки сидят в тюрьме? Это позор». Но ещё более удивительно для меня, что люди не верят в то, что могут как-либо влиять на власть. Во время проведения пикетов и митингов, вот на той стадии, когда я собирала подписи и организовала этот сбор подписей, очень многие люди меня спрашивали. Притом спрашивали с искренним удивлением, какое, собственно, может быть дело до… Может быть, единственного существующего в России, может быть, реликтового… Но какое вот им дело до этого леса в Краснодарском крае? Вот небольшого пятачка. Какое им, собственно, дело, что жена нашего премьер-министра Дмитрия Медведева собирается там построить резиденцию? И уничтожить единственный можжевеловый заповедник у нас в России. 

Ну, вот, собственно, эти люди… Вот ещё раз находится подтверждение, что люди у нас в стране перестали ощущать принадлежность территорий нашей страны им самим, гражданам. Эти люди перестали чувствовать себя гражданами. Они себя чувствуют просто автоматическими массами. Они не чувствуют, что им принадлежит даже лес, находящийся непосредственно у них около дома. Я даже сомневаюсь в том, что они осознают принадлежность собственного дома им самим. Потому что, если какой-нибудь экскаватор подъедет к подъезду и людям скажут, что им нужно эвакуироваться, что: «Извините, мы сносим теперь ваш дом. Теперь здесь будет резиденция чиновника». Эти люди покорно соберут вещи, соберут сумки и пойдут на улицу. И будут там сидеть ровно до того момента, пока власть не скажет им, что делать дальше. Они совершенно аморфны, это очень грустно. Проведя почти полгода в СИЗО, я поняла, что тюрьма — это Россия в миниатюре. 

Начать также можно с системы правления. Это та же вертикаль власти, где решение любых вопросов происходит единственно, через прямое вмешательство начальника. Отсутствует горизонтальное распределение обязанностей, которое заметно облегчило бы всем жизнь. И отсутствует личная инициатива. Процветает донос. Взаимное подозрение. В СИЗО, как и у нас в стране, всё работает на обезличивании человека, приравнивание его к функции. Будь то функция работника или заключенного. Строгие рамки режима дня, к которым быстро привыкаешь, похожи на рамки режима жизни, в которые помещают человека с рождения. В таких рамках люди начинают дорожить малым. В тюрьме — это, например, скатерть или пластиковая посуда, которую можно раздобыть только с личного разрешения начальника. А на воле — это соответственно статусная роль в обществе, которой тоже люди очень сильно дорожат. Что мне, например, всегда всю жизнь было удивительно. Ещё один момент — это осознание этого режима как спектакля. Который на реальном уровне оказывается в хаос. Внешнее режимное заведение обнаруживает дезорганизацию и неоптимизированность большинства процессов. И очевидно, что к правлению это явно не ведет. Напротив, у людей обостряется потерянность, в том числе во времени и пространстве. Человек, как и везде в стране, не знает, куда обратиться к тем или иным вопросам. Поэтому обращается к начальнику СИЗО. На воле, считай, к начальнику Путину. 

Выражая в тексте собирательный образ системы, который… Да, в общем, можно сказать, что мы не против… Что мы против путинского хаоса, который только внешне называется режимом. Выражая в тексте собирательный образ системы, в которой, по нашему мнению, происходит некоторая мутация практически всех институтов, при внешней сохранности форм. И уничтожается такое дорогое нам гражданское общество. Мы не совершаем в текстах прямого высказывания. Мы лишь берем форму прямого высказывания. Берем эту форму как художественную форму. И единственно, что тождественно — это мотивация. Наша мотивация — тождественная мотивация, при прямом высказывании. И она очень хорошо выражена словами Евангелия: «Всякий просящий получает, и ищущий находит, и стучащему отворят». Я и мы все искренне верим, что нам отворят. Но увы, пока что нас только закрыли в тюрьме. Это очень странно, что, реагируя на наши действия, власти совершенно не учитывают исторический опыт проявления инакомыслия. «...простая честность воспринимается в лучшем случае как героизм. А в худшем как психическое расстройство», — писал в 70-е годы диссидент Буковский. И прошло не так много времени, и уже как будто не было ни большого террора, ни попыток противостоять ему. Я считаю, что мы обвиняемые беспамятными людьми. Многие из них говорили: «Он одержим бесом и безумствует. Что случаете его»? Эти слова принадлежат иудеям, обвинившим Иисуса Христа в богохульстве. Они говорили: «Хотим побить тебя камнями, за богохульство» (Иоанн 10.33). Интересно, что именно этот стих использует Русская православная церковь, для выражения своего мнения на богохульство. Это мнение заверено на бумаге, приложено к нашему уголовному делу. Выражая его, Русская православная церковь ссылается в Евангелие как на статичную религиозную истину. Под Евангелием уже не понимается откровение, в котором оно было с самого начала. Но под ним понимается некий монолитный кусок, который можно разобрать на цитаты и засунуть куда угодно. В любой свой документ, использовать для любых целей. И Русская православная церковь даже не озаботилась тем, чтобы посмотреть, в каком контексте используется слово "богохульство". Что в данном случае оно было применено к Иисусу Христу. Я считаю, что религиозная истина не должна быть статичной. Что необходимо понимание и моменты путей развития духа. Испытаний человека, его раздвоенности, расщепления. Что все эти вещи необходимо переживать для становления. Что только посредством переживания этих вещей человек может к чему-то прийти и будет приходить постоянно. Что религиозная истина — это процесс, а не оконченный результат, который можно засунуть куда угодно. И все эти вещи, о которых я сказала, эти процессы, они осмысляются в искусстве и философии. В том числе в современном искусстве. Художественная ситуация может, и на мой взгляд, должна содержать свой внутренний конфликт. И меня очень сильно раздражает вот эта так называемость в словах обвинения применительно к современному искусству. 

Я хочу заметить, что во время суда над поэтом Бродским использовалось ровно то же самое. Его стихи обозначались как так называемые стихи, а свидетели их не читали. Как и часть наших свидетелей, не были очевидцами произошедшего, но видели в интернете клип. Наши извинения, видимо, тоже обозначаются в собирательной обвиняющей голове как так называемые. Хотя это оскорбительно. И наносит мне моральный вред, душевную травму. Потому что наши извинения были искренними. Мне так жаль, что произнесено было такое количество слов, вы до сих пор этого не поняли. Или вы лукавите, говоря о наших извинениях как неискренних извинениях. Я понимаю, что вам ещё нужно услышать. Для меня лишь этот процесс имеет статус так называемого процесса. И я вас не боюсь. Я не боюсь лжи и фикции, плохо задекорированного обмана, в приговоре так называемого суда. 

Потому что вы можете лишить меня лишь так называемой свободы. Только такая существует в РФ. А мою внутреннюю свободу никому не отнять. Она живёт в слове, она будет жить благодаря гласности, когда это будут читать и слышать тысячи людей. Эта свобода уже продолжается с каждым неравнодушным человеком, который слышит нас в этой стране. Со всеми, кто нашел осколки процесса в себе, как когда-то нашли Франц Гафт и Ги де Бор. Я верю, что имею честность и гласность, жажду правды, сделать всех нас немного свободнее. Мы это увидим.


In the closing statement, the defendant is expected to repent, express regret for her deeds, or enumerate attenuating circumstances. In my case, as in the case of my colleagues in the group, this is completely unnecessary. Instead, I want to voice some thoughts about what has happened to us.
That Christ the Savior Cathedral had become a significant symbol in the political strategy of the authorities was clear to many thinking people when Vladimir Putin’s former [KGB] colleague Kirill Gundyayev took over as leader of the Russian Orthodox Church. After this happened, Christ the Savior Cathedral began to be openly used as a flashy backdrop for the politics of the security forces, which are the main source of political power in Russia.
Why did Putin feel the need to exploit the Orthodox religion and its aesthetic? After all, he could have employed his own, far more secular tools of power—for example, the state-controlled corporations, or his menacing police system, or his obedient judicial system. It may be that the harsh, failed policies of Putin’s government, the incident with the submarine Kursk, the bombings of civilians in broad daylight, and other unpleasant moments in his political career forced him to ponder the fact that it was high time to resign; that otherwise, the citizens of Russia would help him do this. Apparently, it was then that he felt the need for more persuasive, transcendent guarantees of his long tenure at the pinnacle of power. It was then that it became necessary to make use of the aesthetic of the Orthodox religion, which is historically associated with the heyday of Imperial Russia, where power came not from earthly manifestations such as democratic elections and civil society, but from God Himself.
How did Putin succeed in this? After all, we still have a secular state, and any intersection of the religious and political spheres should be dealt with severely by our vigilant and critically minded society. Right? Here, apparently, the authorities took advantage of a certain deficit of the Orthodox aesthetic in Soviet times, when the Orthodox religion had an aura of lost history, of something that had been crushed and damaged by the Soviet totalitarian regime, and was thus an opposition culture. The authorities decided to appropriate this historical effect of loss and present a new political project to restore Russia’s lost spiritual values, a project that has little to do with a genuine concern for the preservation of Russian Orthodoxy’s history and culture.
It was also fairly logical that the Russian Orthodox Church, given its long mystical ties to power, emerged as the project’s principal exponent in the media. It was decided that, unlike in the Soviet era, when the church opposed, above all, the brutality of the authorities toward history itself, the Russian Orthodox Church should now confront all pernicious manifestations of contemporary mass culture with its concept of diversity and tolerance.
Implementing this thoroughly interesting political project has required considerable quantities of professional lighting and video equipment, air time on national television for hours-long live broadcasts, and numerous background shoots for morally and ethically edifying news stories, where the Patriarch’s well-constructed speeches would in fact be presented, thus helping the faithful make the correct political choice during a difficult time for Putin preceding the election. Moreover, the filming must be continuous; the necessary images must be burned into the memory and constantly updated; they must create the impression of something natural, constant, and compulsory.
Our sudden musical appearance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior with the song “Mother of God, Drive Putin Out” violated the integrity of the media image that the authorities had spent such a long time generating and maintaining, and revealed its falsity. In our performance we dared, without the Patriarch’s blessing, to unite the visual imagery of Orthodox culture with that of protest culture, thus suggesting that Orthodox culture belongs not only to the Russian Orthodox Church, the Patriarch, and Putin, but that it could also ally itself with civic rebellion and the spirit of protest in Russia.
Perhaps the unpleasant, far-reaching effect of our media intrusion into the cathedral was a surprise to the authorities themselves. At first, they tried to present our performance as a prank pulled by heartless, militant atheists. This was a serious blunder on their part, because by then we were already known as an anti-Putin feminist punk band that carried out its media assaults on the country’s major political symbols.
In the end, considering all the irreversible political and symbolic losses caused by our innocent creativity, the authorities decided to protect the public from us and our nonconformist thinking. Thus ended our complicated punk adventure in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
I now have mixed feelings about this trial. On the one hand, we expect a guilty verdict. Compared to the judicial machine, we are nobodies, and we have lost. On the other hand, we have won. The whole world now sees that the criminal case against us has been fabricated. The system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial. Once again, the world sees Russia differently than the way Putin tries to present it at his daily international meetings. Clearly, none of the steps Putin promised to take toward instituting the rule of law has been taken. And his statement that this court will be objective and hand down a fair verdict is yet another deception of the entire country and the international community. That is all. Thank you.
Translated by Chto Delat News 

Екатерина Самуцевич: Последнее слово на суде по делу Pussy Riot

Автор: Екатерина Самуцевич — Последнее изменение: 2012-08-09 01:03
Сделали вклад: Сайт радио Эхо Москвы: аудизапись, Александра Астахова на фото
Екатерина Самуцевич: Последнее слово на суде по делу Pussy Riot
В нашем выступлении мы осмелились без благословения патриарха совместить визуальный образ православной культуры и культуры протеста, наведя умных людей на мысль о том, что православная культура принадлежит не только Русской православной церкви, патриарху и Путину, она может оказаться и на стороне гражданского бунта и протестных настроений в России...
Фотография отсюда
Выступления Надежды Толоконниковой и Марии Алехиной на видео и аудио здесь.
Москва, Хамовнический суд, зал № 7, 8 августа 2012. 

Екатерина Самуцевич,

подсудимая по делу феминистской панк-группы Pussy Riot:
"На последнем слове от подсудимого ждут либо раскаяния, либо сожаления о содеянном, либо перечисления смягчающих обстоятельств. В моем случае, как и в случае моих коллег по группе, это совершенно не нужно. Вместо этого я хочу высказать свои соображения по поводу причин произошедшего с нами.
То, что храм Христа Спасителя стал значимым символом в политической стратегии наших властей, многим думающим людям стало понятно еще с приходом на руководящий пост в Русской православной церкви бывшего коллеги Владимира Владимировича Путина Кирилла Гундяева. После чего храм Христа Спасителя начал откровенно использоваться в качестве яркого интерьера для политики силовых спецслужб, являющихся основным источником власти.
Почему Путину вообще понадобилось использовать православную религию и ее эстетику? Ведь он мог воспользоваться своими, куда более светскими инструментами власти, например, национальными корпорациями или своей грозной полицейской системой, или своей послушной судебной системой? Возможно, что жесткая неудачная политика правительства Путина, инцидент с подводной лодкой «Курск», взрывы мирных граждан среди бела дня и другие неприятные моменты в его политической карьере заставили задуматься о том, что ему уже давно пора сделать самоотвод, иначе в этом ему помогут граждане России. Видимо, именно тогда ему понадобились более убедительные, трансцендентные гарантии своего долгого пребывания на вершине власти. Здесь возникла потребность использовать эстетику православной религии, исторически связанной с лучшими имперскими временами России, где власть шла не от таких земных проявлений, как демократические выборы и гражданское общество, а от самого бога.
Как же ему это удалось? Ведь у нас все-таки светское государство, и любое пересечение религиозной и политической сфер должно строго пресекаться нашим бдительным и критически мыслящим обществом? Видимо, здесь власти воспользовались определенной нехваткой православной эстетики в советское время, когда православная религия обладала ореолом утраченной истории, чего-то задавленного и поврежденного советским тоталитарным режимом и являлась тогда оппозиционной культурой. Власти решили апроприировать этот исторический эффект утраты и представить свой новый политический проект по восстановлению утраченных духовных ценностей России, имеющий весьма отдаленное отношение к искренней заботе о сохранении истории и культуры православия.
Достаточно логичным оказалось и то, что именно Русская православная церковь, давно имеющая мистические связи с властью, явилась главным медийным исполнителем этого проекта. При этом было решено, что Русская православная церковь, в отличие от советского времени, где церковь противостояла, прежде всего, грубости власти по отношению к самой истории, должна также противостоять всем пагубным проявлениям современной массовой культуры с ее концепцией разнообразия и толерантности.
Для реализации этого интересного во всех смыслах политического проекта потребовалось немалое количество многотонного профессионального светового и видео оборудования, эфирного времени на центральных каналах для прямых многочасовых трансляций и последующих многочисленных подсъемок к укрепляющим мораль и нравственность новостным сюжетам, где и будут произноситься стройные речи патриарха, помогающие верующим сделать правильный политический выбор в тяжелые для Путина предвыборные времена. При этом все съемки должны проходить непрерывно, нужные образы должны врезаться в память и постоянно возобновляться, создавать впечатление чего-то естественного, постоянного и обязательного.
Наше внезапное музыкальное появление в храме Христа Спасителя с песней «Богородица, Путина прогони» нарушило цельность этого так долго создаваемого и поддерживаемого властями медийного образа, выявило его ложность. В нашем выступлении мы осмелились без благословения патриарха совместить визуальный образ православной культуры и культуры протеста, наведя умных людей на мысль о том, что православная культура принадлежит не только Русской православной церкви, патриарху и Путину, она может оказаться и на стороне гражданского бунта и протестных настроений в России.
Возможно, такой неприятный масштабный эффект от нашего медийного вторжения в храм стал неожиданностью для самих властей. Сначала они попытались представить наше выступление как выходку бездушных воинствующих атеисток. Но сильно промахнулись, так как к этому времени мы уже были известны как антипутинская феминистская панк-группа, осуществляющая свои медианабеги на главные политические символы страны.
В итоге, оценив все необратимые политические и символические потери, принесенные нашим невинным творчеством, власти все-таки решились оградить общество от нас и нашего нонконформистского мышления. Так закончилось наше непростое панк-приключение в храме Христа Спасителя.
У меня сейчас смешанные чувства по поводу этого судебного процесса. С одной стороны, мы сейчас ожидаем обвинительный приговор. По сравнению с судебной машиной, мы никто, мы проиграли. С другой стороны, мы победили. Сейчас весь мир видит, что заведенное против нас уголовное дело сфабриковано. Система не может скрыть репрессивный характер этого процесса. Россия в очередной раз выглядит в глазах мирового сообщества не так, как пытается ее представить Владимир Путин при каждодневных международных встречах. Все обещанные им шаги на пути к правовому государству, очевидно, так и не были сделаны. А его заявление о том, что суд по нашему делу будет объективен и вынесет справедливое решение, является очередным обманом всей страны и мирового сообщества. Все. Спасибо". 

Екатерину Самуцевич из Pussy Riot освободили в зале суда

15:12, 10.10.2012

Скорее всего, Екатерине Самуцевич смягчили наказание поскольку, как утверждают ее новые адвокаты, девушка не участвовала в самом «панк-молебне» и была задержана охраной не на амвоне, а сразу после входа в храм. Остальным участницам панк-группы — Марии Алехиной и Надежде Толоконниковой суд оставил в силе приговор в виде двух лет лишения свободы за хулиганство по мотивам религиозной вражды в храме Христа Спасителя.

Neil Durkin


One of the last times I posted something on Pussy Riot I was waxing lyrical (literally) on what I saw as the underlying radicalism of Pussy Riot's situationist-style art-cum-music stunts.
I reckon it's pointless looking at them as "political musicians", still less as a musicians trying to carve out a career in the music industry. They're clearly a bunch of politically-minded activists adept at using the props of a rock band (guitars, defiant vocal stylings, costumes) as well as other modern art-world techniques - videos, public stunts, manifestos,"scandalous" exposure of bodily parts. It's one part Jake and Dinos Chapman, one part Laurie Anderson, one part ... er, well one part Pussy Riot!
I don't want to overdo the comparisons - every artist obviously has all sorts of motivations and inspirations - but another connection worth mentioning is the Forbidden Art event from a few years ago. This was the exhibition in Moscow in 2006 that featured a Mickey Mouse Jesus Christ and other "sacrilegious" exhibits. It upset Russia's Orthodox Church and led to the organisers being fined for supposedly fuelling religious hatred. This week's news that a painting depicting Putin and Medvedev in women's underwear has been impounded from a St Petersburg gallery - because it and similar works "violated existing legislation" - seems to be more of the same.
Russian prosecutors are not, it's fair to say, great students of art history. If they were - or indeed if they'd even bothered to Google a few precedents for Pussy Riot's artist-provocateurism - they would surely have abandoned their foolish and heavy-handed prosecution of Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova last year. Pussy Riot's "shock art" approach is decades old - going back to at least Marcel Duchamp's Urinal (1917) and including well-known works like Andres Serrano's Piss Christ (1987). As Sam Leith says, this kind of "shock art" has gone in and out of fashion over the years. It's not the shock of the new, more the shock of the old-but-still-able-to-cause-a-reaction. But still, no-one had done precisely what the three Pussy Riot women did in Moscow Cathedral last February. In context, it was new, unconventional, even shocking, but criminal it surely wasn't.
Anyway, in my pigeonhole at work last week I received a copy of Let's Start a Pussy Riot, the chunky Rough Trade art book published earlier this year. I was asked to write a few words about it and ... here they are.
All your favourites are in this Pussy Riot-inspired miscellany - Billy Childish, Jeffrey Lewis, Bo Ningen, Sarah Lucas, Kim Gordon, Cornershop, Yoko Ono, Vivien Goldman, Laurie Penny, Lee Ranaldo, Antony and the Johnsons, plus plenty of contributors I hadn't personally come across previously. (After reading Alice Bag's account of Mexican migrants' labour protests in California in the 60s and 70s, I was, for example, quite keen to check out the L.A. punk band The Bags, with Alice doing some pretty lively stuff on vocals).
Another contribution I rather liked was from No Bra, an electro-art band I saw play live in east London a few years ago. Their offering is a nicely humorous poem-type affair which includes this:
"On a date with the devil / The devil said / When I was younger / I was so desperate / To fall in love / That every time I ever met someone / I was so nervous / I couldn't say anything / So I changed my mind / And decided to become evil / And become the devil / And tempt other men into being evil / And being the devil / And I said / If you're not nervous / It's boring..."
Ah, I know the feeling (not about becoming the devil, just the young person dating thing ...). I would have thought the poem's main refrain - "More evil than the devil" - is unimaginable or even shockingly irreligious if you're a devoutly religious person. But it isperfectly imaginable if you're an artist and should be perfectly permissable as a piece of artistic expression. The poem may exhibit artistic sympathy for the devil (just like Milton in the 17th century) but it doesn't mean it's genuinely devilish. Sorry, it can be tiresome to have to spell this out but you do feel that some governments around the world need to have these elementary distinctions highlighted.
Artists like No Bra were already doing their stuff well before Pussy Riot's brush with international fame/notoriety last year, but it's still good to see an array of cutting-edge artists paying tribute to the young upstarts from Moscow. The Pussy Riot effect is likely to be significant in art circles for years to come, but it's also significant in activism circles. This week Yekaterina Samutsevich, the freed Pussy Riot member, said she supports the gay rights campaign building up around the Sochi Winter Olympics. I'm sure there's going to be a lot more of this cross-over with Pussy Riot and other campaigns. (BTW, if you're in the London area on 3 October and feel the need to top up your own Pussy Riot campaigning red blood cells - check out the free screening of the Punk Prayer Riot documentary at Amnesty's HQ).
Meanwhile, apart from now being the (slightly accidental) owner of the Let's Start a Pussy Riot book, I also have another artefact from Russia's modern "culture wars" in my possession.
It's a clockwork icon made by the Russian artist Oleg Yanushevski, one of his "contemporary icons" series from the early noughties. For these pieces of art, ironic comments on modern materialism and a lack of contemporary spirituality, Oleg was vilified on state television, he and his family were threatened and harassed (his son was physically attacked) and he was told the police wouldn't be investigating the attacks. He eventually gained political asylum in Britain with the assistance of the freedom of expression/anti-censorship organisation ARTICLE 19 (see their report on his and other Russian art cases). My girlfriend worked at A19 at the time and was involved in his case - as a thank-you Oleg gave her the clockwork icon. (Thanks Oleg).
Final thought - I'd never want to sell Oleg's icon, but I did see that some of his work has previously come up for auction in London. If you yourself fancy a quick dabble in the online auction world, try this one of pop memorabilia being sold to raise money for Amnesty. Elton John's platform boots! He inspired LA punk rocker Alice Bag. He supports Pussy Riot. Pussy Riot wear big boots. Hey, I want those boots ...

Links and References 

patriarch kirill and pussy riot case - GS

patriarch kirill pussy riot - GS

patriarch kirill - GS

patriarch kirill homosexuality - GS

patriarch kirill feminism - GS

patriarch kirill watch - GS

patriarch kirill putin - GS

Posts on Pussy Riot case in this blog: 

Pussy Riot - Press Review: 8:18 AM 8/22/2012


Comments to the article: Богородица плачет - Pussy Riot - by Александр Морозов

Mike Nova:
These comments were published by me more than a year ago, in August of 2012, after Pussy Riot "trial" and sentencing. I do not think that anyone expected the three members of this punk rock group to serve their full two years sentence. I certainly did not expect it and hoped that they would be released soon. One of them, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released in October of 2012, but Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina still remain in prison and continue to serve their sentences, despite the uproar all over the world and incessant appeals and demands from artists, singers, politicians and public at large to pardon and to release them. I do not know what else we can do to persuade Mr. Putin to lend his good ear to these demands and appeals, and it appears that this decision is more up to him than anyone else, because, as the common opinion goes, he felt personally insulted and incensed by their performance, especially by the line "Mother of God, chase Putin away!"
These limericks, below, are, probably the expression of anger, frustration and protest, more than anything else, however it was and is a natural and spontaneous reaction expressing the feelings about this event, even if somewhat childish and mocking. I reproduce them here in Cyrillic transcription. I sincerely admire these young ladies: their courage, their artistic freedom, their spiritual strength and unusual, especially for performers in this genre and for young Russian people in general, depth of their thinking, which is evident in their post-sentencing statements. As long as Mother Russia is able to produce the persons and souls like theirs, there is a hope for her. As long as they are in prison and even thereafter, the deep shame ("позор" in Russian) will be on Mr. Putin personally, his ruling circle and on Russian Orthodox Church and on Mr. Gund'yaev ("Patriarch Kirill") personally also. I can only repeat, despite being aware that this becomes a hopeless and, alas, helpless mantra: 
Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! 
As long as they are in prison, we all are in prison. May God bless them and give them strength!
As for me, I do intend to write a libretto for the rock opera "Free Pussy Riot", as I declared earlier, as soon as I have just a bit more time. It seems to me, that these subject, theme, occurrence, artistic statement on their part are highly symbolic and historically meaningful for Russia, they are inspiring and ask to be thought through in depth, conceptualised and expressed in art form. And these limericks, most likely, will become one of the songs or arias in this planned rock opera. Enjoy them, if you understand Russian, of course. And if you do not speak Russian, just wait a bit longer: they will be in their main, English version also. Art was, is and always will be much louder and more memorable than any prison sentence.

ПуссиПут и Поп Гундяй 

Он совсем не лиллипут: 
Весь в сраженьях там и тут, 

Неспроста его зовут 
Непутёвый ПуссиПут

Как на всех парах трамвай 
Разошёлся Поп Гундяй: 

"Я им, Пуськам, покажу 
И в тюрьму их посажу: 

Чтоб боялись все меня 
Как геенного огня!" 

Вот предел твоих идей, 

Лицемер и негодяй:
ПуссиПут и Поп Гундяй! 

Архи-врун и Архи-плут: 
Поп Гундяй и ПуссиПут!

Вышла парочка на славу 
Всему миру на забаву!


Open Letter To Father John - August 10, 2013


Pussy Riot 'Desecrated' Cathedral - Russian Church Head

Topic: Punk Group Pussy Riot Case

Members of Russian all-female punk group Pussy Riot
15:06 24/03/2012
MOSCOW, March 24 (RIA Novosti)
Tags: Pussy RiotOrthodox ChurchVsevolod ChaplinPatriarch KirillVladimir PutinRussiaMoscow
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has said a controversial performance at Moscow's largest cathedral by the all-female punk group Pussy Riot "desecrated" the church.
In his first public comment since Pussy Riot performed an unsanctioned "punk prayer" at the altar of the downtown Christ the Savior Cathedral a month ago, Patriarch Kirill said every believer in Russia was "stinged" by the protest.
"We will have no future if sacred shrines are desecrated, if this desecration is seen by some as virtue, as some proper expression of political protest, as some appropriate action or harmless joke," the patriarch said during a service in a Moscow church on Saturday.
The Christ the Savior Cathedral hosts part of the Holy Tunic, a robe which is said to have been worn by Jesus Christ before his crucifixion.
Five members of Pussy Riot, clad in brightly-colored balaclavas, bowed and crossed themselves as they sang an acapella version of a song entitled “Holy Sh*t” at the cathedral. The lyrics included lines such as “Holy Mother, Blessed Virgin, chase Putin out!”
The group said the performance was a protest against Patriarch Kirill’s support for Vladimir Putin in the run-up to the March 4 presidential elections. The performance came amid the biggest demonstrations against Putin’s rule since he first came to power in 2000.
Three alleged members of the group have since been detained and could face up to seven years behind bars if found guilty of hooliganism charges.
The patriarch also denounced efforts to defend the band members.
"Some people begin to appear who are trying to justify this sacrilege, to minimize it... and my heart is breaking because among them are those who call themselves Orthodox Christians."
Supporters of the accused have held a series of protests over their detention and launched a petition for their release.
A number of religious figures, including Vsevolod Chaplin, the influential head of the Orthodox Church's social affairs department, have said the women should not be imprisoned.

The Russian Church Lashes Out at Pussy Riot

...the band is now accused of having the power of "money and arms"...

By , Guide
The Russian Church Lashes Out at Pussy Riot
While they haven't been face to face, members of feminist punk collective Pussy Riot and heads of the Russian Orthodox Church are having a dialogue... of sorts.
This weekend, Patriarch Kirill issued a series of statements that condemned the call for lenient sentences for the incarcerated members of Pussy Riot, saying that "the devil laughed at us" when the group staged their protest performance inside Christ the Savior Cathedral.
He went on to state a confusing idea on the beliefs of Pussy Riot, saying they:
believe in the strength of propaganda, in the strength of lies and slander, in the strength of the internet, in the strength of the media [and] in the strength of money and arms
Which I find confusing and self-contradictory, because while I'll buy that primary goal of the collective is using media, internet and propaganda to spread their message of women's issues in Putin's Russia, I think that the only thing this group knows about the strength of money and arms are the money and arms wielded by those that have their members in prison in the first place.
Members of Pussy Riot recently granted an interview to Gazeta.Ru, which in part included their statement on the Cathedral protest:
...some officials demanded our imprisonment after the performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. But we only wanted to stress the far too much communication between the church and the government. Our Patriarch is not ashamed of wearing watches worth $40,000, which is intolerable when so many families in Russia are on the edge of poverty...(The full interview is here)
Currently three member of the group are in prison facing trial on charges of hooliganism, which carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison. Again, it doesn't seem like they're wielding too much money or power right now. Maybe the Patriarch's statement had something lost in translation, and should read that they should be oppressed by the strength of money and arms?
It does call into question, as well, how closely the church and the government are related in Russia - actually, it doesn't. It makes it pretty evident that they are too closely linked. Patriarch Kirill has been quoted for saying that Putin's previous years of leadership of Russia were a ''miracle of God'', so there's little question as to where his alliances lie. Even so, one should expect a religious leader to lead with compassion, shouldn't one?
The members of Pussy Riot, who have gone on record as to numbering around 10, are the consummate underdog, facing persecution from both religious and governmental authorities for having the audacity for trying to demonstrate their ideal of free speech when it doesn't mesh with the beliefs of those in power. This is a true punk ideal, and the band deserves constant attention from the punk world, and media in general, so that the three members of Pussy Riot currently being held as political prisoners stay in the public eye, and it should probably also serve as a warning for stateside voters who are observing the stances of candidates in the upcoming U.S. presidential elections. What was that about politics and religion being in bed together?

17 AUG 2013
One Year After Pussy Riot Verdict, Children Still Coming To Grips With Mothers' Jailing
By Claire Bigg
August 16, 2013
It's been a tough year for Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina.
The two women have been locked up in some of Russia's harshest jails since a court on August 17, 2012, handed them two-year sentences for performing a song critical of President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral.
In addition to the daily privations of prison life, the members of the feminist punk collective have endured unrelenting prison reprimands, solitary confinement, hunger strikes, and quashed court appeals -- deepening international outrage over what many denounce as a grossly disproportionate response from the Kremlin.
The past year has been no less agonizing for the women's young children, Tolokonnikova's 5-year-old daughter Gera and Alyokhina's son Filipp, 6.
Relatives say Gera and Filipp sorely miss their mothers and are still coming to grips with the reality of their moms serving time in high-security prison camps.
Nikita Demidov, Filipp's father, told RFE/RL that he chose not to keep the truth from his son following Alyokhina's arrest in March 2012.
"I received a lot of different advice from relatives who are not used to speaking openly to children," he says. "But I told him that his mother was in prison because she went to Christ the Savior Cathedral and sang too loudly there and that some people were not happy about it."
02 AUG 2013
Jailed Pussy Riot Activist’s Defiant Speech at Parole Hearing
By Robert Mackey
August 1, 2013
As my colleague Melena Ryzik reported, the two members of the Russian activist collective Pussy Riot who remain imprisoned were both denied parole last week. At separate hearings, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were judged to be insufficiently repentant for the “punk prayer” they performed in a Moscow cathedral last year, calling on the Virgin Mary to “send Putin packing!”
The women, who were arrested together in March 2012 and sentenced to two years in prison for “hooliganism aimed at inciting religious hatred,” both denounced the Russian justice system during the parole hearings in Perm andSaransk.
On Thursday, the literary journal n+1 published an English translation of Ms. Tolokonnikova’s defiant statement, in which she said: “I know that in Russia under Putin I will never receive parole. But I came here, to this courtroom, in order to cast light once again on the absurdity of the justice of the oil-and-gas-resource kingdom, which condemns people to rot pointlessly in camps.”
02 JUL 2013
The Big Chill: Critics Say Kremlin Waging A War On Ideas
By Robert Coalson
July 1, 2013
It's not a great time to be a freethinker in Russia.
Offending somebody's religious sensibilities could get you prosecuted according to legislation signed this weekend by President Vladimir Putin. Criticizing the wrong person with a snarky comment on a social network could run afoul of a vaguely worded law criminalizing online defamation.
And lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists need to be mindful of a newly enacted federal law prohibiting "homosexual propaganda" as well as similar legislation enacted in many Russian regions.
And pretty soon, criticizing those who fought against Nazi Germany could be a crime punishable with stiff fines and jail terms.
The recent spate of legislation has fostered a big intellectual chill and created what the Council of Europe, in a recent report, called a "generalized climate of fear" across the country.
"Over the last year we have seen a broad-scale operation that includes a whole package of so-called laws from the Duma under which anyone can be arrested," Viktor Krasin, a Soviet-era dissident who is now a human rights activist, says.
"They have done a remarkable thing -- now you can be accused of slandering the authorities, of inciting enmity. This is just the same as the Stalin- and Khrushchev-era [anti-Soviet] laws but with just different formulations."
23 JUN 2013
Pussy Riot: "People fear us because we're feminists"
By Laurie Penny
June 22, 2013
Pussy Riot aren't just on tour. They're on the run. 
When we meet in a secret location in central London, they make it clear that this interview is on condition of anonymity. The Russian punk-feminist protest group, two of whose members are currently travelling the world, talking to activists and journalists and raising support for their band-mates in prison, are wanted by their government, who have branded them extremists for their stand against religious patriarchy and the Putin regime. It will be illegal to read or share this article in Russia.  
“There’s a media war in our country,” says the one who, today, is calling herself 'Serafima', whispering painfully through a sore throat. Since three members of the group, Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova, were tried and sent to labour camps last year, Pussy Riot has been attacked in almost every press outlet in Russia. The international outcry on their behalf goes unmarked. “Katya did not realise there was so much support until she was released. When we were in Russia, we didn’t fully understand, but now we see there truly is huge support,” says Serafima. She asks for a translation of a German proverb she knows: “Nobody is a prophet in their own country.”
23 JUN 2013
Pussy Riot: 'We're not frightened - and we're not just stupid girls'
By Harriet Alexander
June 22, 2013
They are an internationally-known group of activists – and yet no one knows their names. They seek publicity for their "punk protests" – and yet their voices and faces are disguised. They are underground, out of the mainstream – and yet beloved by Madonna.
Pussy Riot are nothing if not contradictory.
"First and foremost we are artists," said 'Schumacher' – one of two members of the "feminist punk protest collective" that travelled to London as part of a tour promoting their cause. The women are not wearing their trademark balaclavas, yet do not wish to be identified in any way, meeting in secret at a cloak-and-dagger gathering in the capital.
"Some of us might be more focused on legal issues at the moment, and others on music," she said. "But we are a strong union. The perception of us might have changed, but we are still artists."
To say that the perception of them has changed is something of an understatement.
20 JUN 2013
Show Trials and Sympathy
By Sophie Pinkham
June 19, 2013
Last week, a new documentary about Pussy Riot aired on HBO. Two anonymous Pussy Riot members attended the premiere in New York, bumping shoulders with Salman Rushdie and Patti Smith but skipping the “Riotinis” at the Russian-themed SoHo afterparty. One year after the trial, the world is still on a first name basis with Nadya Tolokonnikova, Masha Alyokhina, and Katya Samutsevich, the “Pussy Riot girls,” the ones who got caught. 
The Pussy Riot trial was only the first in a string of pseudo-legal proceedings meant to punish the opposition and teach the public a lesson, but it’s still the one that’s made the biggest splash abroad. The prosecutions of Aleksei Navalny, one of the Russian opposition’s strongest leaders, and of twenty-seven people arrested in connection with the political demonstrations on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square have been equally absurd, hollow, and unfair. But they haven’t become pop culture phenomena in the way the Pussy Riot trial did; they don’t have the same simple hook or punk rock appeal. 
Any trial that exists only to justify punishment is a kind of “show trial,” a performance rather than a judgment. Such trials have a long history in Russia. In the 19th century, Russia’s greatest lexicographer recorded proverbs and sayings that included, “Where there’s a court, there is falsehood,” and “Go before God with the truth, but before the courts with money.” Show trials come in many flavors, though Stalin’s are the ones we remember best. The stakes in the recent trials have been far lower than those in Stalinist trials: fortunately, no one was ever at risk of being shot. Putin doesn’t have Stalin’s iron grip, and in all of the politically motivated trials of the last year there have been plenty of loud, dissenting voices, both inside and outside the courtroom. In fact, these modern show trials have more in common with the lesser-known trials of the Brezhnev era and late imperial Russia, periods that saw authoritarian governments losing control of their narrative, upstaged by another, more compelling show—the defense.
24 APR 2013
Russia: Worst Human Rights Climate in Post-Soviet Era
Selected From Human Rights Watch
April 24, 2013
(Moscow) – The Russian government has unleashed a crackdown on civil society in the year since Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency that is unprecedented in the country’s post-Soviet history.
The 78-page report, “Laws of Attrition: Crackdown on Russia’s Civil Society after Putin’s Return to the Presidency,”describes some of the changes since Putin returned to the presidency in May 2012. The authorities have introduced a series of restrictive laws, begun a nationwide campaign of invasive inspections of nongovernmental organizations, harassed, intimidated, and in a number of cases imprisonedpolitical activists, and sought to cast government critics as clandestine enemies. The report analyzes the new laws, including the so-called “foreign agents” law, the treason law, and the assembly law, and documents how they have been used.
“The new laws and government harassment are pushing civil society activists to the margins of the law,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government crackdown is hurting Russian society and harming Russia’s international standing.”
Many of the new laws and the treatment of civil society violate Russia’s international human rights commitments, Human Rights Watch said.
11 APR 2013
Jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova to continue activism
Miriam Elder
The Guardian
April 8, 2013
A member of the anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot has vowed to continue her work as a political artist in her first interview with the western media since being sent to prison eight months ago.
Nadezhda "Nadya" Tolokonnikova, 23, sounded defiant in the 15-minute telephone interview from her prison colony in Mordovia, a central Russian region infamous for its high number of prison camps. She has been at the distant women's penal colony since October, serving the remainder of a two-year sentence on charges of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred".
Tolokonnikova and two other members of Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, were found guilty in August last year after they performed a song criticising Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox church in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral. Samutsevich was later given a suspended sentence.
In a phonecall monitored by prison officials, who repeatedly interrupted the conversation in order to prevent Tolokonnikova from talking about politics, the Pussy Riot founder said she had no hope that Putin's government would release her early.
A court in Mordovia is due to hold a parole hearing in Tolokonnikova's case on 26 April. Although the interview was held one day after the parole hearing date was set, Tolokonnikova, who has been kept largely in an information vacuum, said she had not heard the news.
"For me, the parole hearing means nothing," she said. "In our case, the government wants us to recognise our guilt, which of course we won't do," Tolokonnikova said. "I submitted the parole documents to show that they cannot break a person."
Pussy Riot's supporters have accused Putin of orchestrating the case against them. The women carried out their 40-second cathedral performance in the runup to a contested March presidential election that brought Putin back to the Kremlin. The highly publicised trial against them signalled the start of a sweeping crackdown on the opposition.
Tolokonnikova has also continued to appeal against her guilty verdict through the Moscow court system, and is one step away from it reaching the country's pliant supreme court. Late on Sunday, a leading judge in the Moscow appeals court denied that the case against the women of Pussy Riot was political. "We don't hear political cases," Olga Yegorova said in an interview with state-run NTV television. "It is in my power to lessen their sentence – it's not excluded that that will happen."
The case against Pussy Riot, conducted at lightning speed and rife with procedural abnormalities, highlighted the politicised nature of Russia's court system. Their guilty verdict sent a warning signal to the largely young and urban opposition, while the state's representation of Pussy Riot's performance as an attack on the church pandered to the post-Soviet growth in religious sentiment in the Russian heartland.
The next political trial due to shake the nation is that of the opposition leader Alexey Navalny, whose trial is set to start in the city of Kirov, 500 miles from Moscow, on 17 April. He has been charged with embezzlement in a case he believes has been designed to silence him.
Before being cut off by a prison official, Tolokonnikova said: "I hope they don't have the impudence to jail him – because, after all, he is even more of a media figure among the people than the members of Pussy Riot, at least in Russia.
"I'm very happy he exists, as I'm happy that any political activist exists, especially someone who is willing to spend all his time and energy to change the political situation in Russia," she said.
Tolokonnikova spends her days adhering to a strict prison regimen dominated by work in the colony's factory, sewing uniforms for various Russian officials. She said she felt fine and that "it could be worse". She takes medicine daily for persistent headaches.
Asked if she had begun to think about life after prison, Tolokonnikova said: "My life isn't going to change – there will be new key components because of the experience I've gathered here. The vectors of politics and art will continue the same."
The prison routine leaves her little free time. Whatever time she gets goes towards reading books and the many letters from supporters delivered to her twice a week. Any information from the outside world comes from the newspapers and magazines that her relatives bring her during visits.
"I try to use all my time constructively – productively, creatively. I'm trying to learn how to relate to all this with interest, and I think I am achieving it," she said. "If your mood is bad, then time goes slow. If you learn to live paying attention to life and valuing it, even here, then time isn't lost.
"That's my main task: to make it so that the time they tried to take from me isn't lost. And I think I am successful."
04 MAR 2013
A Pale Reflection of Reality
March 4, 2013
By MASHA GESSEN for the NY Times
MOSCOW — The press materials called it “political theater.” Last Friday through Sunday, three of the most important Russian political trials of the last decade were to be re-enacted in compressed form by people who had either taken part in them or might have taken part in them. Staged by the Swiss director Milo Rau, the “Moscow Trials” series was being performed at the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Center, itself a contested space. It would be filmed, for airing on television, presumably anywhere but in Russia, where a Western view of these trials could hardly be broadcast to a wide audience.
14 JAN 2013
The Political World of Moscow Theater

14 January 2013
John Freedman
selected from The Moscow Times
The latest installment of an ongoing project conducted by director Varvara Faer at Teatr.doc. Titled "Theater of Witnesses. Pussy Riot," it is a mix of theater, film, journalism and reality show crammed into a single event, whose purpose is to keep attention focused on the plight of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, the two women sentenced last year to two years in prison for their "punk rock" protest against PresidentVladimir Putinat Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral.
Faer mounts these evenings from time to time, inviting as participants activists who are close to Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina. On Wednesday Tolokonnikova's father and Alyokhina's mother were in attendance, although they did not participate. Most of what could be called a theatricalized press conference focused on Yekaterina Samutsevich, a Pussy Riot member whose conviction was overturned in October, and Taisia Krugovykh, an activist, video artist and friend of the Pussy Riot members.
Krugovykh, who often travels to visit Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina in prison, showed video footage of the penal colonies, and described her experiences with the authorities and the prisoners.
When visiting Tolokonnikova in her prison in Mordovia, Krugovykh "was not allowed to touch her for fear that I might pass her drugs," she explained with a dry laugh.
"There is nothing in these towns," she declared as seemingly endless footage of a cement wall topped by curled barbed wire ran on a makeshift screen. "Just people working at the prisons. You can drive two hours and see nothing but walls."
Alyokhina is allowed to watch video films in her isolation cell in the prison at Berezniki in Perm Krai, said Krugovykh, although the authorities confiscated a film by Jean-Luc Godard because it contained scenes of nudity. "She can't watch films with nudity or about rebellion, revolution or escape from prison," the activist said.
Read Full Article in The Moscow Times