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

Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving

Feasts centering on turkeys with an array of traditional sides and desserts are part of the holiday's traditions, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid