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Pussy Riot – One Year On

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In February 2012, a group of activists from the punk collective Pussy Riot staged a protest in a Moscow Cathedral, denouncing the Russian Orthodox Church’s support for President Vladimir Putin. They were arrested on charges of hooliganism and later sentenced to two years in prison. Today marks the first anniversary of that Punk Prayer performance. One year on and in spite of an outpouring of support from across the globe, two members of the group, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, remain detained in remote penal colonies, far from Moscow and their young children.

English PEN and our colleagues at PEN International consider the harsh sentences to be in retaliation for the criticisms the band have made of President Putin and the Orthodox Church, and therefore in breach of the International Convention on Political and Civil Rights, to which Russia is a signatory. We continue to call on the Russian authorities to release Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova immediately and unconditionally. We are also calling for all charges against fellow band member Yekaterina Samutsevich, whose sentence was suspended following an appeal in October, to be dropped.

Earlier this month, Pussy Riot’s lawyers filed a complaint contesting their convictions in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Whilst we are hopeful that this will lead to their early release, there are still a number of things we can all be doing to show our continued support – please see below for some suggestions.

Poems for Pussy Riot

To rally support for Pussy Riot, in October 2012 English PEN launched ‘Poems for Pussy Riot’, inviting poets from all over the world, including Phill Jupitus, Ali Smith, Deborah Levy and John Kinsella, to write creative responses to the case. We received more than 100 submissions within a matter of weeks and posted the extraordinary poems and images as daily online tributes to the band on our website.

An e-book collection and print-on-demand version of the collection, CATECHISM: POEMS FOR PUSSY RIOT, edited by poets Mark Burnhope, Sarah Crewe and Sophie Mayer, was published on 1 October 2012 to coincide with their first appeal hearing. All proceeds are to be divided between the Pussy Riot Legal fund and our Writers at Risk programme.

The project has been a great success so far:

  • We have now made over £850 through book sales and events;
  • We have sold over 140 print-on-demand copies of ‘Catechism’, and reached Lulu sales rank of #201;
  • The poems are now available online in Russian – huge thanks to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty for their support!
  • Poets for Pussy Riot have been performing their work at public events across the UK and Ireland. To view videos of their performances, please see the Poems for Pussy Riot YouTube channel.

Please help us to keep the Pussy Riot conversation alive by downloading, reading, sharing, tweeting, translating and remixing the amazing work produced by our Poets for Pussy Riot. To inspire you, here is Ali Smith’s Song in Portuguese, translated by Ricardo Marques.

Canção

De cada vez que disseres não
a algo que está errado
uma fenda do tamanho de um cabelo &
uma única nota dessa canção
insere-se na pedra
 
o significado de forte
 
pode levar pouco tempo
pode levar muito tempo
 
não
não
não
 
ouve: milhões de nós
cantando em coro.

 

TAKE ACTION

Send a letter of appeal

- Highlighting the fact that the continued detention of Pussy Riot members Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova violates their right to free expression, and is therefore in breach of international conventions, specifically Article 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Russia is a signatory;

- Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of both Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova, and the complete dismissal of the charges against all three women.

You can send messages to President Putin via the Kremlin website or to the following address:

President Vladimir Putin
President of the Russian Federation
23, Ilyinka Street,
Moscow, 103132
Russia

We would also recommend that you write to the Russian Embassy in the UK:

His Excellency Dr Alexander Vladimirovich Yakovenko
6/7 Kensington Palace Gardens,
London,
W8 4QP
Fax: 020 7727 8625

Email: c/o press@rusemb.org.uk

Or you could use the form below.  A sample letter is provided but it is always better if you put the appeal in your own words.

Your name and address as entered below will be added. You do not need to add your name above.
Fields marked with a * are required.
(UK only)
Please contact us if you have any difficulties or queries.

One Comment on Pussy Riot – One Year On

    1. Cat Lucas

      Six poems from our collection ‘Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot’ have been recorded in Russian to mark the first anniversary of the Punk Prayer performance. Huge thanks to all the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalists involved for their continued support for this project!

      Watch the recordings, featuring poems by Karen Connelly, Jack Underwood, Sally McAlister, Adrian Slatcher, George Ttoouli and Tim Dooley, here http://www.svoboda.org/content/article/24908759.html

      Reply

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