By John O'Callaghan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Pussy Riot's nomination for an arts award in Singapore should be extended to the Russian government for giving prominence to the protest collective by jailing members over their "Punk Prayer" video, two of the women said with heavy sarcasm.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, released from prison in December just before the end of their two-year terms, drew overwhelming attention at a media event on Friday for 20 Asian artists in the running for the Prudential Eye Awards.

Pussy Riot, whose "Punk Prayer" featured members performing a profanity-laced protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin at a Moscow cathedral in 2012, is shortlisted in the digital/video category for the awards ceremony on Saturday.

"We are talking about our work with media - how to take a single thought and spread it across the world. That is what we did in cooperation with the Russian state," Tolokonnikova said.

"This award is not only for us but for the whole political system that exists in Russia today."

With Russia about to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month, the Pussy Riot case plays prominently in criticism about civil liberties, human rights and the Putin administration's treatment of dissent.

A third Pussy Riot member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was freed in October 2012 when a judge suspended her sentence on appeal.

"If nothing of what happened to us after that action had happened, there might have never been any nomination. And here we should pay tribute to the Russian state," Alyokhina said.

Chiming in, Tolokonnikova said: "Maybe some Russian official should have been invited here to share the nomination with us."

Tolokonnikova's husband, Russian-Canadian artist Pyotr Verzilov, said the Pussy Riot members were aware of sensitivities in Singapore, where public protests are subject to restrictions. The Southeast Asian city-state is given low rankings for press freedom by media watchdogs.

"We are political artists and they understand the whole thing around this issue," Verzilov told Reuters. "Obviously, we feel that the organizers do feel certain pressure, not that they have said something."

RUSSIAN PRISON CONDITIONS

Pussy Riot, which the women said is an anonymous group of many people, is now focusing on prisoners' rights in Russia - a project that will include video and other creative forms. Tolokonnikova wrote a letter while serving her sentence decrying prison conditions and saying she feared for her life.

"We will continue to be involved in politics for sure. But now we are establishing an NGO that will protect the rights of prisoners," Tolokonnikova said. "Human rights activism has always been part of political activity in Russia."

With Russia's image under heavy scrutiny before the Winter Games, Putin eased restrictions on protests in Sochi, released the two Pussy Riot members and pardoned former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent 10 years in prison in what critics said was punishment for challenging the president.

Putin, who denies any notion of Russians being jailed for political reasons, has been in power as president or prime minister since 2000. He has not ruled out seeking another six-year term in 2018.

After their release from prison, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were unbowed in their criticism of Putin.

"I do not think it is a humanitarian act. I think it is a PR stunt," Alyokhina said in late December. "My attitude to the president has not changed."

(Editing by Ron Popeski)

About News.net

Publishing Services International Limited (PSIL) is the publisher and operator of a worldwide network of online news sites dedicated to delivering fair, accurate and relevant reporting from a variety of the world’s most trusted sources – from the biggest cities to the smallest towns.

We deliver positive and powerful messages to our readers, providing up‑to‑the‑second news that matters to the individual.

Our promise is to serve communities and individuals worldwide, delivering information that hasn’t always been available to them. We will give them back a voice – a voice that’s empowering because it is theirs – and provide a platform to communicate between themselves and the world.

We believe people are not just generic demographics; they are individuals with their own preferences and curiosities. We are about understanding these individuals, listening to them, and serving them.

We are the new pioneering spirit of news – we’re not talking to everyone, we’re talking with every one.

If you want your news, your voice, your way, on your time – we’ve got news for you.

 

FAQs

Email

If you have any questions or concerns please email us on support@news.net

Phone

  • Australia, Toll Free 1-800-983-421
  • Hong Kong, Toll Free 800-906-187
  • Singapore, Toll Free 800-852-3871
  • USA/Canada, Toll Free 1-800-830-4132

Advertise With Us

Interested in being awesome?
Contact us by email or phone.

Cancel