News / Europe

A Year On, Pussy Riot Claim a Victory in Russia

August 3, 2012: Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alekhina sit in a glass cage at a court room  in Moscow, Russia. August 3, 2012: Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alekhina sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia.
x
August 3, 2012: Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alekhina sit in a glass cage at a court room  in Moscow, Russia.
August 3, 2012: Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alekhina sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia.
Reuters
Yekaterina Samutsevich has few regrets about the day a year ago when she marched into a Russian Orthodox church with four other members of the Pussy Riot punk band, pulled on a balaclava and reached for her guitar.
       
Guards grabbed her before she could join in the band's "punk prayer'' against Vladimir Putin, and she went on to spend several months in detention before facing trial last year with two bandmates who are still in jail.
       
The protest did not stop Putin winning a presidential election the next month, and demonstrations against the former KGB spy who has dominated Russia since 2000 have lost momentum.
       
But a year on, Samutsevich still regards Pussy Riot's protest as a success, saying it drew attention to what the band regards as Putin's unhealthy and dangerous relationship with the church and a lack of genuine political freedoms.
       
"When we got to the church, we above all wanted to make a video clip and release it,'' the 30-year-old computer programmer said in an interview outside the Christ the Saviour Church, where the band staged its protest on Feb. 21, 2012.
       
Three uniformed police stood watching Samutsevich throughout the interview on a bridge near the church, its golden onion domes and tall white walls towering above her.
       
"We wanted to start a discussion in society, show our negative view of the merging of the church and state ... The problem was raised internationally, the problem of human rights was put sharply into focus,'' she said.
       
"I don't regret the performance. I only regret that they put us in prison. But it's the government, which brought criminal charges, that's guilty in this.''
       
Two of the other band members remain at large and are believed by some to have left the country.

Radical Protest Group
       
Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, were sentenced last August to two years in jail on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, although they denied intending to offend Orthodox Christians.
       
Samutsevich was released in October after hiring a new lawyer who argued successfully that she had not taken part in the performance itself because she was seized by guards before she could start playing her guitar.
       
The change of lawyers and a battle over use of the Pussy Riot brand have prompted speculation about the relationship between the two jailed band members and Samutsevich.
       
But Samutsevich said: "Our relations are good, we are fighting together ... We are not afraid.''
       
Pussy Riot, which describes itself as an art collective of anonymous members, has not, however, carried out any significant protests since the performance a year ago and Samutsevich did not say when there might be another.
       
The Pussy Riot case attracted fierce international criticism, but it divided Russian society. Although opinion polls showed few Russians wanted jail terms for the band members, many saw their profanity-laced protest as sacrilege.
       
Even so, two women showed their sympathy by putting on the band's trademark balaclavas in Christ the Saviour Church on Thursday. They were hauled away by guards.
       
Pussy Riot says it has about 10 to 20 members at any given time and no fixed lineup. Its members hide their faces behind balaclavas, and wear short dresses and mismatched garish tights.
       
The goal, as the group puts it simply, is to change Russia through radical protest.
       
Fading Protests

Critics challenge Pussy Riot's ability to do so, or that of the opposition movement that grew out of protests that began 14 months ago over alleged fraud in a parliamentary election won by Putin's United Russia party.
       
The demonstrations have faded since Putin's re-election as president after four years as premier, and opponents accuse him of cracking down on dissent since then, including by using his party to push repressive laws through parliament.
       
Samutsevich said many Russians saw mass arrests at a protest last May 6, the eve of Putin's inauguration, as a turning point.
       
"Many people have noted that since May 6 there's been a fall [in attendance at rallies]. But in fact it's a clear process and there's an opposition all the same,'' Samutsevich said.
       
"It's just that now, when you go out on to the street, they immediately pack you up and haul you away. We need some other form of protest now.''
       
Life has changed dramatically for Samutsevich since last year's protest in Christ the Saviour. She is now constantly in the public eye and focuses on work related to Pussy Riot rather than her previous job.
       
She dismissed suggestions the protest worked in Putin's favour by enabling him to paint the opposition as sacrilegious liberals and rally support among conservatives.
       
"Many people are now critical of the government and state authorities [because of Pussy Riot]. They see the injustice. The situation has changed,'' she said.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces a Chaotic World and the Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid