PUSSY RIOT CLOSING STATEMENTS

Original article here.

Read the translators’ statements here.

On August 8th, the three members of Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot delivered their closing statements at the Moscow Khamovniki District Court. Charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred,” Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were first arrested on March 3, a day before the controversial re-election of Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, they had committed their crime on February 21, when five members of Pussy Riot staged a guerrilla performance on the altar of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. For less than a minute, the women danced, singing “Our Lady, Chase Putin Out!” and crossing themselves until they were apprehended by security guards. If found guilty, they face three years in prison. 

In a country that was willing to sic its secular court on a “religious” cause, Pussy Riot are true revolutionaries. Nonetheless, it was not until they delivered these closing statements that their supporters—and opponents—heard what these three brave women stand for. Although they are being crushed in the jaws of the system—and know it!—their courage and steadfast sincerity are sufficient cause for (impossible) hope. If not for the Russian state, then at least for the Russian people.

—Bela Shayevich

Yekaterina Samutsevich

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 

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FREE PUSSY RIOT T-SHIRTS

A message from our comrade, David Shortland…

FREE PUSSY RIOT

“The company I work for has put together a ‘Free Pussy Riot!’ T-shirt to raise some funds – all our profits are going to the Pussy Riot fund for legal fees, childcare etc (http://freepussyriot.org/help). I’ve attached a little ad banner image we’ve made for it to this email.

I wondered if it might be possible for you to put a post about these on your blog? It would be a huge help.

You can see the tees here: https://www.backstreetmerch.com/official_pussy-riot_merchandise/

Pussy Riot are a Russian feminist performance art group and punk rock band. Three members, Ekaterina Samucevich, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, face imprisonment for an alleged one minute performance in a Moscow church. They are currently in detention and have been denied bail.

This is not an official T shirt. BSI Merch wanted to do something off our own backs to raise funds and awareness. We did this to help in the spirit of punk rock.

ALL BSI Merch’s profits raised from the sale of these T shirts will be sent to the Free Pussy Riot fund to help with expenses that range from case related to the women’s needs while in pre-trial detainment and for their children’s needs. Pussy Riot legal defense fund is administered by the women’s lawyers.”

Russian Riot Grrls: PUSSY RIOT & BENEFIT PATCHANKA Party This Weekend

The Russian riot girl band Pussy Riot is going viral right now. We’re not crazy about the music, but we like what they’re doing. See below re: developing forms of protest.

Text reblogged from Dangerous Minds:

“Before the police dragged them off, the members of Pussy Riot, the Russian day-glo balaclava-clad punk rock protesters, sang their anthem “Revolt in Russia” (“Revolt in Russia – the charisma of protest / Revolt in Russia, Putin’s got scared!”) near the Kremlin. Their inspiration for a style of resistance never before seen in Russia, was the riot grrrl punk movement, including groups like Kathleen Hanna’s Bikini Kill, and flash mobs. The young women of the collective, average age 25, have revealed only the smallest details about their lives. None will divulge their day jobs. They only use first-names.

pussy riot grrl russian punk

In the two weeks since their mid-January action, the all-female group has become a potent symbol of anger at the status quo in Russian society and their videos have gone viral all over the world. Like many young people in Russia, the members of the Pussy Riot collective are furious at Vladamir Putin’s plans to seek the presidency again and his return was the impetus behind the formation of the group (as well as their song “Putin Has Pissed Himself”).”

pussy riot grrl russian punk

From The Guardian:

“We understood that to achieve change, including in the sphere of women’s rights, it’s not enough to go to Putin and ask for it,” said Garadzha. “This is a rotten, broken system.”

Her bandmate Tyurya said: “The culture of protest needs to develop. We have one form, but we need many different kinds.”

The band began writing songs with lyrics such as: “Egyptian air is good for the lungs / Do Tahrir on Red Square!” and performing on trams and in the metro. Videos of the flash gigs began spreading across the internet. When the protest leader Alexey Navalny was jailed for 15 days after his arrest during Russia’s first post-election protest on 5 December, three members of Pussy Riot took to the roof of the jail where he was being held, setting off red flares as they sang “Death to prison / Freedom to protest!”

The fear of arrest long ago left the band members, steeped in the tradition of illegal protest. “We have experience with it, we’ve been detained at protests before,” said Tyurya. “It’s not scary – you’re surrounded by good, normal people, those who protest against Putin.”

All eight women were detained during the Kremlin performance, questioned and released. Most got off with administrative fines rather than the 15-day jail sentences often doled out to those who stage illegal protests.

“The revolution should be done by women,” said Garazhda. “For now, they don’t beat or jail us as much.”

“There’s a deep tradition in Russia of gender and revolution – we’ve had amazing women revolutionaries.”

The band is getting ready for its next performance, something that usually takes a month to pull together. Its members don’t discuss plans on the telephone or give away details, out of fear that the security services will disrupt the project. Is what they do art or politics? “For us it’s one and the same.”

Despite projected temperatures of -20C, tens of thousands of protesters are expected to march on Bolotnaya Square, across from the Kremlin, on Saturday. The Russian presidential election will be held on March 4. Vladimir Putin, is, of course, expected to win handily.

Read more:
Feminist punk band Pussy Riot take revolt to the Kremlin (The Guardian)


Visit Pussy Riot online.

P.S. Thanks for everyone who came out to Burdel Dali last night!! Message from DJ Raphlex Below:

Last night was insane…. Thanks to all comrades friends and lovers who came yesterday, thanks to my brotha Chico Selektor on the decks, Thanks to Who Am I for all the damage made on the dancefloor, Thanks to my lovely Michelle Christina to Mehanata and to all of you my family for making of last night such an awesome BURDEL! Transglobal music has no boundaries! OPA!

Stay tuned for next week’s party announcement.

Please also come out this weekend to BENEFIT PATCHANKA, feat. SKARRONEROS, KAZMO (FROM KAGERO), Kate Dunphy (From Chicholina Sound Machine), CONSUMATA (feat. ex members of Escarioka and Karuhata), with Dj Sets By CHICO SELEKTOR & EMMA SOUND SISTA. Taking place at Fontana’s, 105 Eldridge St. (between Grand St & Broome St).

This is a benefit for friends of ours who had a horrible house fire recently. Spread the word!

benefit patchanka