Posts Tagged ‘Pussy Riot’

Pussy Riot freed!

December 23, 2013
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova speaking to journalists after release from Krasnoyarsk prison

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova speaking to journalists after release from Krasnoyarsk prison

Nizhny Novgorod's human rights group NO TORTURE

Nizhny Novgorod’s human rights group NO TORTURE

freedom rocks

freedom rocks

with lawyer Peter Zaikin

with lawyer Peter Zaikin

Nadia talking to the press after her release

Nadia talking to the press after her release

phone conversation

phone conversation

Клетчатая рубашка

Клетчатая рубашка

Members of Pussy Riot freed today under a general amnesty signed by Vladimir Putin.

But, they never should have been in prison.

Masha has described her time of “endless humiliations”, including undergoing forced gynecological examinations almost every day for 3 weeks.

All three girls on their release have vowed to continue their fight for human rights and democratic reform in Russia.

Where is Nadya?

November 5, 2013
Pussy Riot punk band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova standing in the defendant's cage in a court in the town of Zubova Polyana, Mordovia in April this year

Pussy Riot punk band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova standing in the defendant’s cage in a court in the town of Zubova Polyana, Mordovia in April this year

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of Pussy Riot, was put into a car on the 22 October. Her whereabouts remain unknown. She is somewhere ‘lost’ in the Russian gulag system. Neither her lawyers, nor her family, know her whereabouts.

She had been on hunger strike, in protest at the harsh prison conditions. She had agreed to end her hunger strike, if transferred to another prison.

She is now halfway through her prison sentence.

Amnesty International has launched an urgent appeal, only their website is so baldy designed, it cannot be read.

Please sign the petition to Vladimir Putin demanding to know the truth of he whereabouts of Nadya.

Zeitgeist 2012: Year In Review

December 26, 2012

Google review of 2012.

ThePianoGuys, Pussy Riot, Neil Armstrong, the man who fell from the sky, London 2012 Olympics, Gangnam Style

No mention of tax dodging!

Ai Weiwei sends a message of support to Pussy Riot

December 6, 2012

Специально к выходу в прокат фильма АЙ ВЭЙВЭЙ: НИКОГДА НЕ ИЗВИНЯЙСЯ известный китайский художник записал видеообращение для российских зрителей.

One dissident to another, Ai Weiwei sends a message of support to Pussy Riot.

Since the first Poets for Pussy Riot event, held on 29 August 2012, Nadezha Tokolonnikova and Maria Alyokhina remain in prison, serving out sentences in notorious penal colonies. The community of poets that came together then, as an act of solidarity and commitment that this injustice should not be forgotten, came together once more on 21 November 2012, in the Free Word centre in Farringdon, in London, in association with English PEN, to mark the nine-month anniversary of Pussy Riot’s protest Punk Prayer performance, which took place on 21 February 2012 in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Nearly 40 poets contributed to an evening of original poetry.

Pussy Riot! A Punk Prayer For Freedom (Feminist Press, $2.99, published 1 October 2012), is a collection of poetry put together by English PEN.

A court in Moscow has designated four videos made by the feminist punk protest group Pussy Riot as extremist. The Zamoskvorechye District Court in the Russian capital ruled that access to all websites hosting the videos must be limited. According to the court’s decision, websites that do not remove the Pussy Riot videos will face administrative penalties, including fines up to 100,000 rubles ($3,000).

Performance of the Punk Prayer in Moscow led to the arrest of three members of the group. Two of them — Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova — are now serving two-year prison sentences for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.” A third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was freed last month after a court suspended her sentence on appeal.

Madonna speech

November 14, 2012

Madonna speaks at her Madison Square Garden MDNA Tour show two nights ago on Pussy Riot and Malawa.

Vladimir Putin cannot now go anywhere without the issue of Pussy Riot being raised. Russians involved with human rights abuses now risk their assets being seized.

A Rioter’s Prayer – Echo of Moscow Interviews Yekaterina Samutsevich

November 4, 2012

Pussy Riot’s Yekaterina Samutsevich on protest, art, and freedom

On October 10, 2012, an appellate court in Moscow announced the conditional release of Pussy Riot’s Yekaterina Samutsevich, the punk rock dissident imprisoned alongside band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina for charges of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.” The “religious hatred” involved a musical protest, a “punk prayer” staged inside Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral in February, less than a month before Russia’s elections. Appealing to the Virgin Mary to banish Vladimir Putin, the performance artists called attention to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill’s explicit endorsement of Putin as “a miracle from God,” highlighting the entangled powers of church and state.

The government’s attempt to stifle the political criticism and the prosecution and court’s conflation of “blasphemous acts” with “a grave violation of public order” served to elevate Pussy Riot’s cause, launching the plight of the activists into the international spotlight. Solidarity protests swept through cities, celebrity artists like Madonna pledged support, and Amnesty International named the women “prisoners of conscience,” a designation shared by Russia’s famous political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Nevertheless, two of the band members—Masha and Nadya—remain incarcerated, sentenced to two-year terms at harsh prison camps.

Two days after her release, Katya gave an interview to the Russian radio station Echo of Moscow, a bastion of independent journalism increasingly coming under the control of Gazprom Media, a subsidiary of the partly state-owned natural gas company. Fielding the questions of some skeptical Russian listeners, Katya discusses Putin’s fueling of national resentments, the tactics of protest, and the future of Pussy Riot.

– Conversation published courtesy of Echo of Moscow, originally translated from Russian by Olga Kokorina

Free Pussy Riot

Free Pussy Riot

Free Pussy Riot train in Germany on way to Russia

Free Pussy Riot graffiti on train in Germany on way to Russia

Echo of Moscow: How did you feel when your case was separated [from the cases of Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova]?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: I have very conflicting feelings about our separation. I wasn’t expecting it at all. At first, I didn’t understand why the text that we were used to hearing—the verdict is unchanged—was suddenly different, why suddenly there were different words. We started listening closely and suddenly: “The verdict is changed, the punishment altered,” and then the words about the conditional release. For a few seconds I had no idea what it meant. And then all at once, there was an explosion of emotion. The girls embraced me and I understood that I was going to be free, outside, on the street.

Echo of Moscow: Have you explained the sense behind your action to people? It seems like the most frequently posed question is: why did they do it?

Now many people ask, “Had you known that this action would be considered a criminal act, would you have done it?” Yes, because we could not remain silent.

Yekaterina Samutsevich: Yes, I think so. I think that the majority of people understand the idea behind the action very well.

Echo of Moscow: Could you explain it to our listeners? There are more than three hundred questions on our site, and I can see quite clearly that many people do not understand why you did it or what your motivation was.

Yekaterina Samutsevich: From the outset, we chose a particular course of action that became the underlying concept for the group: the illegal music performance. We appear suddenly at a pre-selected location, a place that has a specific political resonance for us. For example, before our action at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, we gave a performance at Lobnoye Mesto, the Place of Skulls, in Red Square. When we were there, we sang a song we’d written about social issues that interest us. At the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, we raised the issue of the connection between the power of the Russian orthodox church and the power of the State. This issue became very visible when Patriarch Kirill openly advised believers to vote for Putin and the Russia United party. It was too much, done in too open a manner. Of course, we wanted to react. There was no other way.

Now many people ask, “Had you known that this action would be considered a criminal act, would you have done it?” Yes, because we could not remain silent. At that moment, the insolence of power—Patriarch Kirill’s insolence—was boundless. The way I see it, he broadcasted a lie in which orthodox culture is used as propaganda by Putin and his regime for political ends.

Echo of Moscow: So in your view, the action is 100 percent political and it has provoked a “tectonic change,” as was often said when talking about Pussy Riot during your detention. And you surely didn’t expect things to turn out this way.

Yekaterina Samutsevich: Obviously we didn’t see it coming. It’s possible that it didn’t come from us but from the issue we raised. This issue is a serious one in our society, for our government. It’s an old problem, but it remains very distressing and serious, as anyone can see.

The media constantly repeats that every part of the church congregation has been offended. Even in the text of the judicial verdict, they say that the social category of religious believers has been offended without exception. The powers that be have gone so far as to present an unreal situation, a situation that doesn’t exist.

Echo of Moscow: Can we say that your action was a success?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: Yes, of course. Much more than that.

Echo of Moscow: Have you discussed the effect the action produced with other members of the group?

Even my cellmates supported me.

Yekaterina Samutsevich: We discussed it the next day. We saw people’s reactions on the internet, and obviously saw that the reactions were extremely varied. Many people did not understand what it was. Very quickly, in the first days after the action, we saw attempts by those in power to portray our actions as sabotaging religious values. We saw attempts at disinformation, attempts to portray our actions as those of atheists, something put on by militant atheists. That’s clearly false. We continued to explain ourselves right up to our arrest. We were less active after that.

It’s a consequence of the political context. The media constantly repeats that every part of the church congregation has been offended. Even in the text of the judicial verdict, they say that the social category of religious believers has been offended without exception. The powers that be have gone so far as to present an unreal situation, a situation that doesn’t exist.

Many religious people support us, and their letters are proof. I received letters from religious people when I was under house arrest, and they supported us and understood the meaning of our actions. Before our arrest many believers told us, “we understand the meaning of what you did.” On the other hand, they said they did not understand the behavior of Patriarch Kirill, which discredited religion and the church.

Echo of Moscow: Did you receive many letters when you were under house arrest?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: I don’t know how many because there’s censorship in jail and I surely didn’t get them all. I received many letters that were censored—entire paragraphs cut out with scissors.

Echo of Moscow: A listener asks if you felt the wide range of support.

Yekaterina Samutsevich: We felt it intensely. Even my cellmates supported me. At first they were suspicious; they didn’t understand the meaning of our actions. But when we talked about it and I told them about our group and objectives, they came around to support us. During the trial, they tried to take care of me. They made food to eat and kept the plates hot until my return. They did everything they could to make me feel comfortable.

Echo of Moscow: And the guards who worked at the jail?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: Different in each case. Some sympathized, while others made it clear that they didn’t like what we did and they didn’t care for the popularity that landed on our heads.

Echo of Moscow: Are you happy to be a public figure now?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: To tell you the truth, I myself don’t feel this popularity. I haven’t even been free for two days, under conditional liberty. I can’t tell you if it pleases me or not. In principle, I don’t like the fact that people are talking about us like stars. I don’t have a big head, I don’t sign autographs, and I don’t want any of that. The fact that people film me—yes, I understand that it’s important for people to see me. Film me if you want, but it changes nothing about my behavior.

Echo of Moscow: Doesn’t this celebrity contradict Pussy Riot’s ideology? If I understand it correctly, a member of Pussy Riot is a woman in balaclava. She guards her anonymity.

Yekaterina Samutsevich: It’s true that the trial has dealt a blow to the concept of the group by revealing our faces, three young women with their own lives and families. For us, this situation is problematic. We are going to work to find equilibrium between anonymity and uncovered faces.

Echo of Moscow: Is the group’s future still a priority for you? Or is your priority now to sort out the problems with the tribunal, with the goal of being declared innocent? Because you are still convicted of a crime.

Yekaterina Samutsevich: The priority is to free Masha and Nadya and undo the injustice. I think we will take the case to the European Court. But, at the same time, the group cannot stop its actions. All of us want to continue to do what is necessary.

Echo of Moscow: Talking about the future of the group, Pussy Riot has become a kind of brand. There will surely be a commercial evolution. How will you manage that? Will you combat that?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: The problem is widespread: in contemporary art you have the commercialization of work. When an artist exposes his work openly and the work is copied or resold, it becomes a commercial object. The problem contradicts the idea behind our group. We are against commercialization, and we don’t want Pussy Riot to become a brand.

But to tell you the truth, I don’t know. What should we do if someone wants to make vodka under the name Pussy Riot? We don’t want to restrain people or be aggressive, if people want to sell T-shirts or other things. But we don’t sell anything and never will. We are still a group with no commercial goal.

Echo of Moscow: Who advised you to change lawyers?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: No one. I made the decision myself.

Echo of Moscow: So all the rumors about a conflict with your lawyer Volkova…

Yekaterina Samutsevich: There wasn’t a conflict or problem. None of that happened.

Echo of Moscow: You are content with the way that Violetta Volkova defended you before the court?

Art is integral to a political citizen. We aren’t talking about powerful elitist politics but rather citizen politics.

Yekaterina Samutsevich: I’m not the one to judge. I’m not a jurist. To tell the truth, I have not had the time to decide about the work of our lawyers or anyone else. The trial was crazy. They got us out of bed at 5:00 a.m. and we didn’t stop until midnight. We were either in the courtroom or the holding area. We were constantly in a state of stress.

Echo of Moscow: Did you understand when she spoke on your behalf about what it was that you did or did not do?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: Yes, I understood.

Echo of Moscow: You were satisfied?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: In principle, yes.

Echo of Moscow: And your new lawyer? After her arguments, you are free.

Yekaterina Samutsevich: Her legal arguments for my appeal were utterly brilliant. I did not expect this result. Khroumova Irina Vladimirovna, my new lawyer, has a faultless political reputation. That was important for me in choosing her. She was known as the lawyer in the Khodorkovski case and that was very important for me.

Echo of Moscow: Are you up to date on what Khodorkovski has said about your case? He explained what’s it’s like to be dragged around like that.

Yekaterina Samutsevich: He wrote me a letter and I wrote back. So we had a correspondence.

Echo of Moscow: Was that important for you?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: Very important. Khodorkovski is a well-known person among political prisoners. His situation is very different than ours, but it is part of the repression that the government directs against Russian citizens who dare to criticize power.

Echo of Moscow: You don’t want to make politics rather than art?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: It’s already politics.

Our country always separates politics and art. It is really amazing that art cannot be political, since art raises the same questions: the problems of society, of people, of culture. These are political questions. Art is integral to a political citizen. We aren’t talking about powerful elitist politics but rather citizen politics.

Echo of Moscow: Do you feel close to the wave of protests we are witnessing these days? The demonstrations, elections to the Coordinating Counsel of the Opposition. The opposition today is very diversified. There exists a more or less radical opposition. Do you intend to join any of them? Or is it more correct to say that Pussy Riot is an autonomous group that follows its own path?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: Pussy Riot has its own form, its own place. We’re different than other demonstrations. But we support all forms of protest. We have chosen the form of “illegal concerts.” Others choose to demonstrate or be part of organizations of other events.

Echo of Moscow: You don’t want to join any of them?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: As a citizen I am aligned with every demonstration. I support all the movements; they’re all important to me. What happened on the 5th and 6th of December last year was very exciting. But for our part we have continued to work within our group. We have continued our activities.

Echo of Moscow: Your father spoke during one of the demonstrations. Were you aware of that? What effect did it have on you?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: I just learned about his appearance at a demonstration. He has told me about his interviews, about what he said, whether he could speak on my behalf. I didn’t know about the speech at the demonstration. But it makes me very happy. It’s marvelous.

Echo of Moscow: Do you think that the story of your arrest and trial has changed your father?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: Very much so. The first time we met after the action, he was sad, asking me, “You went straight to the Cathedral. Why did you do that? What was the point of that?” And little by little, he started to change his mind. Today he says, yes, the regime is too aggressive and the trial was illegal. He started talking like this long before he said a word in public. He had been, unhappily, like so many citizens in our country, a sort of passive observer who watches television and believes everything he hears. Today, he has a more active position.

I’m not afraid at all. For the last two days I walked around the city and took the metro. No one was aggressive towards me. People looked at me, they recognized me. But I didn’t feel any aggression.

Echo of Moscow: Nevertheless, certain people feel that all of this is just the fashion. Protest is in fashion, to go to Bolotnaia Square is in fashion, and supporting Pussy Riot is a fashion, too. And the fashion will soon change.

Yekaterina Samutsevich: I have the impression that this is the opinion the government wants to impose on people, their way of opposing the situation. I think that when a person goes somewhere, she reflects, she thinks about where she is going and why, because she is using her time and energy. It’s a conscious choice. I don’t go to a demonstration because it’s cool. It isn’t at all cool to go to demonstrations today. The forces of order are nearby. They can beat you up. The demonstration on May 6th proved that. Nowadays, many people find themselves behind bars solely because they went to a public demonstration.

Echo of Moscow: Has the international reaction been important for you?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: It’s very important because it represents solidarity: a worldwide cultural solidarity and from people in show business. They reacted, found out about our work and the idea behind the group. Everything was out in the open and they supported us. It really buoyed us during the trial.

The last day of arguments during the trial was the day we learned that Madonna had gotten involved, writing Pussy Riot on her body. That gave us a lot of energy! The atmosphere in the hearing room was heavy. It was silent and people weren’t listening to us. Every time you’re trying to say something, they cut you off. They ignore you. Then one of our lawyers played the Madonna video. You could really feel the contrast between the international support and the ambiance in the courtroom. We were really inspired by that.

Echo of Moscow: How do you explain this hurricane of support? Or perhaps not a hurricane, but hundreds of cataclysms at the same time.

Yekaterina Samutsevich: There are many factors. We have given this a good deal of thought. Certainly there are many people who are attracted by the idea of the group, by the ideas we support and transmit. The idea of freedom for women, it’s a feminist idea, isn’t it? The idea of equality between people, equality between the sexes. It’s because we have created this character of a young woman in a balaclava, this strange person who isn’t very feminine, who is above all androgynous. On one hand, the image of a young woman in a dress, and on the other, the balaclava. That’s what’s striking.

Echo of Moscow: This wasn’t the first action taken by Pussy Riot. You’ve made other clips, but they did not have this success. Do you think that the trial has played a role in catalyzing things for you?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: Of course the trial and our other actions contributed to what has come about. If that was our first action, it would be hard for people to understand the idea behind the group. We are faithful to the form we have chosen. People saw our action at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral first and then they saw the other things we had done. People realized that this has been our activity over a long period of time. They understood the meaning of what we’re doing. They understood that it had nothing to do with religion, that it had nothing to do with incitement to religious hatred, and that all our actions are purely political actions.

Echo of Moscow: How do you explain the government agreeing to the trial? Without their intending to, the government has turned you into celebrities, thanks to the trial, the verdict, and the citation of decrees from the Council of Trullo.

Yekaterina Samutsevich: My sense is that they weren’t expecting this. I think they tried to make a trial that would scare us off. They did not expect the reaction, the global public support. This has been very surprising for the government.

Echo of Moscow: Do you feel that right now you are wearing something like a martyr’s halo? Are you happy about the way all this is going?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: A martyr’s halo? I don’t feel that in the slightest. I feel that we have support, certainly. The people sympathize with us, they know what it’s like to be in prison, what it’s like to be in isolation. Many people have sent us food, clothing, letters of support. It shows that people understand the situation we’re in, that it is necessary not only to speak of support but also to help us physically.

Echo of Moscow: What about your future projects? I imagine you are bound by the conditions attached to your freedom?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: I still don’t have all the details of my situation. I have to stay in touch with the relevant authorities. I’m required to check in every month and not disturb the public order, as they call it.

Echo of Moscow: Will it be difficult for you, Yekaterina, not to disturb public order?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: I imagine it will be. I’m not one of those people who stay at home, never doing anything and never going out. Of course I want to continue my activities with Pussy Riot. But I have to pay attention. I have to be more clever. You have to remember that our phones are tapped, our mail is read. They can shadow me a few steps behind, and all that has to be taken into account now.

Echo of Moscow: But you won’t stop?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: Not at all.

Echo of Moscow: And you aren’t afraid that your conditional liberty will be withdrawn and you’ll have to return to jail?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: I’m not afraid at all.

Echo of Moscow: We have thirty seconds left. What would you like to add? What message do you want to send to our viewers and listeners?

Yekaterina Samutsevich: Above all to those who still have the idea that our action was aimed at religious beliefs: it isn’t true. We didn’t want to injure anyone. We respect all religions and believers. Our action was purely political. We tried to draw attention to issues in society, to the issue of the connection between the power of the Orthodox Church and the power of the State. I think that we were successful. Society is now aware of the problem, and the rest of the world is too. The trial revealed power’s disproportionate reaction. It showed that our government lacks the wisdom to respond in a decent manner.

Published by my.firedoglake.com translated from original french.

Pussy Riot the story so far

November 3, 2012

Three members of Pussy Riot sentenced in a Stalin-era show trial for a protest in Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow, what was at worst a misdemeanour. One has been released on appeal, the remaining two sent to penal colonies, the modern-day equivalent of Gulags.

A conventional demonstration, a march, is very easy to put down. What is far, far harder to deal with is creative protest. We have seen this in the UK with UK Uncut. Had they held a protest outside Vodafone HQ it would have had zero impact. Instead they occupied Vodafone shops and connected with consumers who were none too happy on learning of their tax dodging and many asked to join in the occupation.

Trade Unions having a mass demo, a local Amnesty group standing in the street and collecting a handful of signatures on a petition, no longer works.

That is why Pussy Riot have been so successful. The reaction of the system was to put them in prison, even though the worst that should have happened was a slap on the wrist or a token fine, has spectacular backfired, not a day goes by without some event taking place in support of Pussy Riot. Vladimir Putin cannot appear anywhere on the world stage without being questioned about Pussy Riot.

Yes, we need to worry about the two girls held in penal colonies, but what we need to be even more concerned with is the crackdown on opposition, the assassination of critics, the arrest of opposition leaders, the blocking of internet sites.

This video has arisen out of a ‘Pussy Riot in Parliament‘ event held in the Houses of Parliament, organised by MP Kerry McCarthy (15 October 2012).

The proceedings focused on readings of the three defendants’ closing statements & was followed by a panel discussion on the Pussy Riot case and, more broadly, the role of the arts in political protest.

The panel discussion was chaired by Louder Than War boss John Robb & featured Joan Smith (novelist, journalist, and human rights campaigner); Dorian Lynskey, (author of 33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs); and Chris Bryant, (MP for Rhondda).

During the evening a film crew started making a film about Pussy Riot. The film has now been completed & features the Pussy Riot women themselves (and, of course, their music) interspersed with input from all the panelists & especially Kerry McCarthy herself as she has a unique insight into the case as she not only attended part of the trial but also met some of the members of Pussy Riot.

The video, made by Max Vegliois & Moe Ahmed, has just been completed & Louder Than War, who were one of the first places in the UK to cover Pussy Riot’s case, have been granted an exclusive on it.

Accompanying the video come these notes:

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, two members of the punk collective Pussy Riot have been sent to remote prison camps to serve their sentences.

Both were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for performing a punk prayer at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow.

They will now serve the rest of their terms in the camps where conditions are reportedly terrible.

Kerry McCarthy MP, Dorian Lynskey, Joan Smith and John Robb recount Pussy Riot’s remarkable rise.

With thanks to:
Kerry McCarthy, Labour Member of Parliament – @KerryMP
Dorian Lynskey, Guardian Music Writer – @Dorianlynskey
Joan Smith, Author and Columnist – @polblonde
John Robb, Musician and Writer – @johnrobb77

Producer/ Director: Mohammed Ahmed – @mohammedahmed41
Producer/Director: Max Veglio – @maxveglio
Editor: Nick Lewis
Graphics Designer: Robin Littlewood

Exclusive interview with freed Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich

October 10, 2012
Yekaterina Samutsevich following her release

Yekaterina Samutsevich following her release

(CNN) – Only hours after she was freed from prison Wednesday, Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich vowed to continue the kind of political protest act that led to her imprisonment this summer for “hooliganism” alongside two fellow band members.

The Russian punk band members were sentenced in August for performing a song critical of President Vladimir Putin in one of the Russian Orthodox Church’s most important cathedrals in February.

Although Samutsevich walked out of the court building Wednesday with a suspended sentence, the court upheld the two-year sentences for Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina.

But in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Samutsevich said the punk rock band still has work to do in opposing Putin.

“We are not finished, nor are we going to end our political protest,” she said. “The situation in the country has deteriorated since our performance and the trial itself is a testimony to that.”

Pussy Riot still exists and will carry out more protest performances, she said, adding that rumors of divisions within the group are unfounded.

“We have to act in such a way that they” – meaning Russian authorities – “do not learn about concerts ahead of time … and arrest us,” she said.

She will be “more cautious” in her actions going forward, Samutsevich conceded.

Trial exposes Russia’s ‘surreal justice’

Meanwhile, her “negative” attitude toward Putin and what she calls his “mega authoritarian project” remains unchanged, Samutsevich said.

She said the band’s cathedral protest had been intended as a criticism of the support given by senior members of the Russian Orthodox Church for a third presidential term for Putin.

“We believe that we live in a secular society and in this state, the principles of the secular society should be respected,” she said. “The representatives of the church should not interfere with the politics of the country, and we wanted to highlight this problem through our action.”

However, the flash mob-style act was in no way an expression of hatred for the church or its believers, she stressed.

Footage of the brief but provocative protest action – in which the band members, their faces shrouded by balaclavas, screamed “Mother Mary, please drive Putin away” inside Christ Savior Cathedral – attracted wide attention after it was posted online. It also outraged many of the country’s faithful.

The three women, who were arrested shortly after the protest act, were convicted and sentenced for hooliganism. Two other members of the female punk rock band have fled Russia.

Samutsevich said the court’s decision to release her with a suspended sentence was a big surprise, and she has “mixed feelings” about being free after more than six months in custody.

“Of course I am very happy to be out and to be free, but I’m very upset that Nadezhda and Maria are still incarcerated,” she said.

Although Samutsevich is a member of Pussy Riot and was involved in planning the protest act, she was stopped by a guard on her way into the church and so did not perform the “punk prayer” song, she said.

This meant that she could not technically be sentenced for dancing at the altar, as the two others were, apparently leading the court to conclude that her sentence should be suspended.

Supporters responded joyfully in the courtroom as her release was announced.

Both Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were very happy for her, Samutsevich said, despite the fact they are expected to serve the remainder of their prison terms in different prisons. Each of them has a young child.

They are “very, very upset” about being separated from their children, Samutsevich told Amanpour, “but they are holding up very well.”

While in detention, the three young women were held in separate cells with three or four other women, she said. They were kept under close scrutiny and recorded at all times to start with, she said, but suffered no physical abuse.

Asked if Pussy Riot’s action had made a difference, Samutsevich said she believes it made a lot of people think differently about Putin and his policies.

Their trial has also helped expose the flaws in the Russian judicial system and how it is influenced by the opinions of the president, Samutsevich said.

Wednesday’s court decision came only a week after Samutsevich took on a new legal team for the appeal, saying she wanted to push her defense in a different direction.

Speaking outside court, lawyers for Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina said they would try to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Rights group Amnesty International said Wednesday’s ruling was “only a half-measure in achieving justice” for the women, and called for all three to be released immediately and unconditionally.

“Any decision that shortens the wrongful detention of the three women is welcome. But no one should be fooled – justice has not been done today,” David Diaz-Jogeix, Amnesty’s Europe and Central Asia deputy program director, said in a statement.

“The government has introduced numerous new restrictions to freedom of expression in recent months. As this decision demonstrates, Russia’s judiciary is unlikely to offer much protection to those who fall foul of them.”

The band’s conviction and sentencing garnered an international outcry, with celebrities from Paul McCartney to Anthony Bourdain to Madonna backing the cause of the strident trio.

“Say what you will about Pussy Riot: this might not be your kind of music. Their actions might offend you. But this doesn’t change the fact that freedom of expression, in whatever peaceful form it takes, is a human right, and one on which the protection of other rights rests,” wrote Michelle Ringuette of Amnesty International USA.

A judge rejected the women’s defense that their actions were politically motivated, ruling that they had intended to insult the Orthodox Church and undermine public order.

An Orthodox Church leader has been widely reported as saying Putin’s years in power have been a miracle from God.

Before the hearing last week, the Russian Orthodox Church appealed for leniency for the band members, according to state-owned Ria Novosti.

The church believes repentance will “benefit the souls” of the band members, the news agency said.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has called for the members’ release but also said he is “sickened” by their actions.

In Snows Over Bridges

October 7, 2012
Maria Alyokhina behind glass cage during Pussy Riot show trial

Maria Alyokhina behind glass cage during Pussy Riot show trial

I change into things:
I hang like a convict
I’m dining with kings.
My broken-down carriage
Careens down your street
And under the snow
I’ll lie down for a bit.
I’m dining with freaks,
I change as I go,
I stand like a king
Under bridges in snow.
When my child sleeps, the night,
Time altogether, seems to stop, and turn to water,
Into a sea that unites all with all; even, possibly,
Me with you.
And the greatest treasure would be safe in it,
Afloat on a simple raft. I’ll attach every tree to a place
Where people will find it, recognize it and remember.
They say that home is where you are always missed.
When I hear things like this
I feel like twisting the speaker’s neck
Into a tight tourniquet, and then, steadily,
Making him look
At the rocking of the baby’s cradle.
Then I want to take his hand and say: see
How the lilac’s blooming, can you feel the scent?
Not a thing will be left of us, but this will go on.
Will go on.

— Maria Alyokhina

Maria Alyokhina, aka Masha, one of the three members of Pussy Riot jailed for two years following a Stalin-era show trial.

In Snows Over Bridges is published in Pussy Riot! A Punk Prayer For Freedom (Feminist Press, $2.99, published 1 October 2012).

Arrested for bearing gifts

October 7, 2012
free pussy riot gifts arrested

free pussy riot gifts arrested

Свинтили за то, что она показывала журналистам подарки, которые она собиралась подарить Светозарному.

Arrested for showing reporters gifts destined for Vladimir Putin.