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Paper Review: Pussy Riot
October 13, 2012 10:40

The Pussy Riot story continues to make headlines in news outlets around the globe, with one of the bandmates released after the court suspended her two-year sentence in appeal hearing.


You can find video reports on major TV channels, even on Washington Post and the Slate. But first of all, check out CNN's Christiane Amanpour interview with Yekaterina Samutsevich, her first press contact after she was freed.

The Economist suggests it’s a way for the authorities to “blunt criticism of the case, without being seen to be caving to public pressure”

The Guardian ran two articles on the case, the one right after the court session, focusing on the crackdown on freedoms and the girls’ plea to the believers confessing they did not aim to offend them.

In a fresh article, The Guardian’s reporter in Moscow, Miriam Elder, posts excerpts from her interview with Ekaterina Samutsevich, the one PR member lucky to be out.

The article is full of details on her stay in one of Moscow’s detention centres. You can read about the rules inside the facility, her cellmates (the band members were separated), the books she read and so on.

Samutsevich also speaks about her stance on the punitive system saying it does not respect “personal dignity”.

During their conversation, the woman said her freedom was unexpected and appears to be concerned over her vulnerable status – the verdict on her was not quashed but suspended, she could be locked up again if she commits any minor violation. Also, she believes that Russia’s security services will now keep an eye on her.

At the same time, she vowed to continue taking part in the band’s unsanctioned performances, admitting, though, that she would be need to more cunning from now on.  

She didn’t like the idea of performing with western artists who supported the band, saying their motto was anonymity and their symbol “a girl in a balaclava”.  

In the meantime, Madonna renewed her campaign to release those still in prison during her gig in Los Angeles. According to, she reminded her audience that “two members of Pussy Riot are still in jail.” 

Another British daily, The First Post, adds more quotes from the girl’s interviews given to different Russian media, the most important reflecting her determination to do the whole thing over again because of the “impudence of authorities, the impudence of Patriarch Kirill”.  

The Australian ABC news was surprised by the appeal judges, Larisa Polyakova and Yury Pasyunin among them, coming out to meet the press in an attempt to defend the credibility of their decision.  

The Financial Times’ Harry Eyres describes his visit to Moscow and discussion of the band’s fate with random people. The focus of his report is on the centuries-old tradition of “holy fools” of the Russian Orthodox Church (with extensive examples from classic literature) who have always been there to remind the top hierarchs of their earthly nature and mistakes. 

The FT’s author underlines their protest was not at all motivated by hatred to religion, referring to the abundance of Bible allusions in their girls’ closing statements.

Global Voices Online has some good analysis, too. According to their post, the Russian authorities have actually learned some lessons from the opposition protests and exotic acts like the punk prayer in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral. The authors claim the government has refined its defensive strategy, combining the divide and conquer tactics with the proportionality policy, meaning that while they continue to splinter the opposition, they will respond differently to different types of behaviour – less dangerous acts will be punished less.


In a story named ‘Is Pussy Riot Breaking Up?’ The New Republic looks at the case from a totally different angle, the key message being that something’s rotten in the state of Pussy Riot.


The author explores the reasons behind Samutsevich’s release and the side effects of the band’s fame.


According to the article, the eldest and the quietest of the trio in dock was merely group's weakest link that the state loosened, popped it right out from the chain “trying to catalyze its collapse and decline”.


The New Republic cites the pressure on her father and herself as the key reason for changing the lawyer who simply focused on her release without engaging in histrionics or opposition rhetoric.


Other cracks are said to include Tolokonnikova’s criticism of Peter Verzilov, her husband for “trying to cash in on the group’s fame" and acting as their spokesman without permission.


So obviously we’ll hear more about the case in the coming weeks and months, so stay with Russia-IC for more updates.


If you are interested in what the Russian press says about the story, contact Russia-IC.

Author: Mikhail Vesely

Tags: Pussy Riot Samutsevich Christ the Savior Cathedral   

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