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CHERNOVS CHOICE

Published: March 14, 2012 (Issue # 1699)


Pussy Riot, the Moscow-based feminist all-woman punk group notorious for its unsanctioned performance, found itself under unprecedented pressure from the Kremlin when two alleged members were arrested on the eve of the March 4 presidential election.

The two women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, have been charged with criminal mischief committed by a group and face up to seven years in prison.

Despite the fact that the two women have small children and there is no evidence to suggest they present any danger, the court ruled that they should be kept in custody for two months while they wait for the trial.

The band is said to have insulted the feelings of religious people by entering the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow and performing a song called Madonna, Drive Putin Away there on Feb. 21, before they were ejected by the churchs security guards.

During their performances, the members of Pussy Riot wear colored balaclavas and cannot be identified from the video, which is the only evidence.

According to Pussy Riots press release, Tolokonnikova and Alekhina, who have gone on hunger strike to protest their imprisonment, deny belonging to Pussy Riot and taking part in the performance. Meanwhile, the group continues to receive threats via the Internet of rape and murder.

More than 2,000 believers including 23 priests were among almost 6,000 who signed a petition to Patriarch Kirill, head of the Orthodox Church, asking him to show mercy on the imprisoned women. It was delivered on Monday. On March 8, which was declared the International Day of Solidarity with Pussy Riot, a number of protests were held.

Opposition leaders Alexei Navalny and Boris Nemtsov took part in a picket near the Interior Ministry Department on that day. Yury Shevchuk, frontman of Russias leading rock band DDT, was among artists who spoke in support of the arrested women.

Thirty officers took part in the arrests of the two women, who were treated as if they were terrorists, while five senior investigators are working on the case, according to Pussy Riot.

Some of the investigators have admitted that the orders came from the very top, the group says.

Dmitry Peskov, Putins press secretary, admitted that his boss did not like the song.

It appears that it was no coincidence that the arrests took place on March 3 the day before the voting, which was marked by large-scale violations in favor of Putin with the aim of scaring protesters and dissenting artists.

The feelings of believers are merely being used as a pretext for political repression.

Novaya Gazeta reported this week that the alleged band members had been offered immediate release by Channel One television in exchange for an on-air apology on a popular talk show, which is chillingly reminiscent of Stalins 1930s show trials and dissidents television repentances of the 1970s and 1980s.

Free Pussy Riot!





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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