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Pussy Riot Celebrate Freedom in Estonia

Estonians, including the countrys President, weigh in on freedom of speech and creativity with Russian rebels.

Published: April 9, 2014 (Issue # 1805)



  • Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot spoke with journalists and musicians at Tallinn Music Week.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / SPT

  • Estonian President Toomas Ilves speaking at the opening of Tallinn Music Week.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / SPT

Pussy Riot packed the room at Tallinn Music Week late last month, while the public listened attentively until the very end even though they did not play any music, but rather spoke about the current political situation and protest movements in Russia and recent events in Ukraine.

The annual music industry conference and festival took a look at the roots of rock and roll, which largely started as manifestation of freedom and independence.

Announced six days ahead of the festival, Pussy Riots appearance summed brought events full circle from March 2012, when Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves became the first international politician to demand the release the groups members, who had been arrested earlier that month.

Two years later, Ilves met with Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina in person after they had served nearly 22 months of the two-year sentences they received for an anti-Putin performance at Russias main Orthodox church, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow.

Opening the festival as he does every year, Ilves perhaps the worlds only president with a competent knowledge of and sincere love for rock music stated that freedom and rock and roll went hand in hand, and set the tone for the event as a celebration of freedom of expression.

In his speech, Ilves said that rock musicians suffered alongside may other people in Estonia under the Soviet rule and referred to Elvis Presley, John Lennon and the Sex Pistols, who were seen as offensive at their time in the West.

That is the role played by rock n roll, he said. To offend sensibilities enough to cause people, societal attitudes and government behavior to change.

Ilves said that before the Enlightenment, people who were creative and different than others were denounced to the wide approval of the community, and were burned at the stake because group-thought outweighed the ideas of the lone individual.

This is the ultimate tragedy of authoritarian societies, Ilves said on Mar. 28.

When you kill creativity, you kill the spark of life and the culture, of science; you kill your scientists, you kill your artists. In doing so, you kill your society and also the chance to change.

When collective belief systems, be they Marxism-Leninism, Fascism, or one or another religion that thinks it holds the unique key to truth, have more of a say than the lone individual, the result is tragedy and the end of any hope for democracy, for freedom or for real art of any kind, said Ilves.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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