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Pussy Riot On ’60 Minutes’: One Year Later & Still Fighting

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Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich of Pussy Riot, sitting behind bars during a court hearing in Moscow last July. (NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images)

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich of Pussy Riot, sitting behind bars during a court hearing in Moscow last July. (NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s been over a year since members of Russian feminist punk group Pussy Riot were detained for speaking out against Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior, but don’t think the band is feeling remorse for its actions.

“I’m here to say you shouldn’t give up,” said the band’s drummer, referred to only as “Kot,” in Pussy Riot’s interview last night (March 24) with CBS’s 60 Minutes. “What happened to us is unacceptable.”

“Kot” was not one of the three members of Pussy Riot arrested in March 2012 following the band’s February protest, and thus, hid her identity with one of the balaclavas the group is known for wearing.

However, Yekaterina Samutsevich, one of members arrested (and now freed), was also interviewed during the 60 Minutes segment. She maintained Pussy Riot’s innocence from the charges they faced (hooliganism motivated by religious hatred) and stressed that they “want the government to leave power, because we consider it illegitimate. But we’re advocating for a peaceful overthrow.”

The protest was conducted at the Moscow cathedral, an imposing structure located next to the Kremlin, on February 21, 2012, to bring attention to the repressive Russian government led by Putin. By that night, the collective had taken footage shot during the protest and made it into a music video titled “Punk Prayer – Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!”. Samutsevich, along with Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were arrested in the protest’s wake. Though all three were convicted in an August trial, Samutsevich was freed on probation in October after an appeal, but her two bandmates remain imprisoned until March 2014.

 

“The elections weren’t legitimate,” Samutsevich said of Putin’s re-election. “There was vote rigging. There was false counting. It was clear that the president put himself in power.”

She claims that since, the president has cracked down even further on discontent with the current government. If the appeals of Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina are ignored or shot down, their detainment could become a PR nightmare for the country, which will host the Olympics next year.

Despite having two members still jailed, Samutsevich said the fight will continue.

“Just because there was a court case doesn’t mean that we’re going to stop and shut our mouths,” she said. “We have a lot of things to say. We’re going to continue to work, continue to do what we do.”

Also included was a interview with one of the still-jailed members’ spouses, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova’s husband Pyotr Verzilov, who had perhaps the most chilling line of the entire segment. His wife, it turns out, has only seen their young daughter once since being jailed, and works in a prison camp sewing uniforms.

“If you really want to change history you have to be able to put everything on the line,” Verzilov said. “Changing history’s not a hobby. It’s not something you can take part time.”

- Kevin Rutherford, Radio.com

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