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Prisoners of conscience

A group of celebrities is trying to draw attention to alleged miscarriages of justice by being photographed with the children of men and women serving time in prison.

Published: September 28, 2011 (Issue # 1676)



  • Rock musician Yury Shevchuk is pictured with the daughter of Taisia Osipova at a photo session last week.
    Photo: VLADIMIR TELEGIN

Taisia Osipovas requests to see her five-year-old daughter have been repeatedly turned down.

Vladimir Telegin, a local photographer best known for his black-and-white photographs of the punk band PTVP and art group Voina, and Maxim Gromov, founder of the rights group Prisoners Union, have come up with a new series of photographs depicting DDT frontman Yury Shevchuk with the five-year-old daughter of an imprisoned political activist.

Katrin Fomchenkova was brought to St. Petersburg for the photo session from Smolensk, a city about 700 kilometers from St. Petersburg, where her mother Taisia Osipova has been imprisoned since November, when she was arrested on suspicion of dealing drugs. Her supporters say the charges are fabricated, pointing out that prosecution witnesses are kept secret, while pro-Kremlin activists acted as witnesses of the search.

Osipova faces eight to 20 years in prison. Her supporters say that counter-extremism Center E agents planted drugs in her apartment because they wanted Osipova to testify against her husband Sergei Fomchenkov, an activist with The Other Russia political party.

The series is part of a charity campaign titled Children of Political Prisoners of Present-Day Russia, which was launched in February and aims to give publicity to cases of civic and political activists being put in prison on dubious charges across Russia by arranging meetings between their children and celebrities such as Shevchuk, Voina art group and the film actress Liya Akhedzhakova, who have so far taken part in the campaign.

In the video accompanying the photos, Shevchuk says that the public believes the charges against Osipova have been fabricated.

How many people who really do steal from and destroy Russia are at large, while Taisia, a wonderful young woman who only wishes well to people, is in prison? Its not fair, he says.

The photo session took place ahead of another hearing into Osipovas case in Smolensk, which was scheduled for Monday, Sept. 26. On that date, however, the court refused to conduct an expert analysis of the fingerprints found on the bag of heroin as Osipova had asked, and prolonged her pretrial detention for another three months. Osipova, who has diabetes, has been repeatedly denied requests to see her daughter.

Prisoners Union founder Gromov, himself a former prisoner, came up with the idea after watching a TV documentary about the 1979 TV miniseries The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed (The Age of Mercy) starring Vladimir Vysotsky, the iconic rebellious Soviet singer-songwriter and actor.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Sept. 18


Get your nerd on at Boomfest, St. Petersburgs answer to the United States popular ComicCon. Starting today, this international festival of comics will take over venues throughout the city center and includes exhibitions of comics and illustrations, film screenings, competitions and the chance to meet the genres authors, artists and experts.



Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBAs newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is Handmade in Germany, an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during todays Djembe and Vuvuzela, a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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