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Yekaterina Samutsevichs speach For Pussy Riot

Written by Sabine Küper on . Posted in Sustainability, Urban Chant

Since the farcically unfair trial of anti-Putin Russian punk
rock trio Pussy Riot ended last week, the rousing and
powerful closing statement by band-member Yekaterina
Samutsevich has been making the rounds online, both in its
original Russian and in an English translation. Below is her statement in full.

In the closing statement, the defendant is expected to
repent, express regret for their deeds or enumerate
attenuating circumstances. In my case, as in the case of my
colleagues in the group, this is completely unnecessary.
Instead, I want to voice my thoughts about the reasons
behind what has happened to us.

That Christ the Savior Cathedral had become a significant
symbol in the political strategy of the authorities was clear
to many thinking people when Vladimir Putin’s former [KGB]
colleague Kirill Gundyayev took over as leader of the Russian
Orthodox Church. After this happened, Christ the Savior
Cathedral began to be openly used as a flashy backdrop for the
politics of the security forces, which are the main source of
power [in Russia].

Why did Putin feel the need to exploit the Orthodox
religion and its aesthetic? After all, he could have employed
his own, far more secular tools of power—for example, the
state-controlled corporations, or his menacing police system,
or his obedient judiciary system. It may be that the harsh,
failed policies of Putin’s government, the incident with the
submarine Kursk, bombings of civilians in broad daylight, and
other unpleasant moments in his political career forced him to
ponder the fact that it was high time to resign; that
otherwise, the citizens of Russia would help him do this.
Apparently, it was then that he felt the need for more
persuasive, transcendental guarantees of his long tenure at
the pinnacle of power. It was then that it became necessary
to make use of the aesthetic of the Orthodox religion, which
is historically associated with the heyday of Imperial
Russia, where power came not from earthly manifestations such
as democratic elections and civil society, but from God

How did he succeed in doing this? After all, we still have
a secular state, and any intersection of the religious and
political spheres should be dealt with severely by our
vigilant and critically minded society, shouldn’t it? Here,
apparently, the authorities took advantage of a certain
deficit of the Orthodox aesthetic in Soviet times, when the
Orthodox religion had an aura of lost history, of something
that had been crushed and damaged by the Soviet totalitarian
regime, and was thus an opposition culture. The authorities
decided to appropriate this historical effect of loss and
present a new political project to restore Russia’s lost
spiritual values, a project that has little to do with a
genuine concern for the preservation of Russian Orthodoxy’s
history and culture.

It was also fairly logical that the Russian Orthodox
Church, given its long mystical ties to power, emerged as the
project’s principal exponent in the media. It was decided
that, unlike in the Soviet era, when the church opposed, above
all, the brutality of the authorities towards history itself,
the Russian Orthodox Church should now confront all
pernicious manifestations of contemporary mass culture with
its concept of diversity and tolerance.

Implementing this thoroughly interesting political project
has required considerable quantities of professional lighting
and video equipment, air time on national TV channels for
hours-long live broadcasts, and numerous background shoots for
morally and ethically edifying news stories, where the
Patriarch’s well-constructed speeches would in fact be
presented, thus helping the faithful make the correct
political choice during the difficult time for Putin preceding
the election. Moreover, the filming must be continuous; the
necessary images must be burned into the memory and constantly
updated; they must create the impression of something
natural, constant and compulsory.

Our sudden musical appearance in the Cathedral of Christ
the Savior with the song “Mother of God, Drive Putin Out”
violated the integrity of the media image that the authorities
had spent such a long time generating and maintaining, and
revealed its falsity. In our performance we dared, without the
Patriarch’s blessing, to unite the visual imagery of Orthodox
culture and that of protest culture, thus suggesting to smart
people that Orthodox culture belongs not only to the Russian
Orthodox Church, the Patriarch and Putin, that it could also
ally itself with civic rebellion and the spirit of protest in

Perhaps the unpleasant, far-reaching effect from our media
intrusion into the cathedral was a surprise to the
authorities themselves. At first, they tried to present our
performance as a prank pulled by heartless, militant
atheists. This was a serious blunder on their part, because by
then we were already known as an anti-Putin feminist punk
band that carried out their media assaults on the country’s
major political symbols.

In the end, considering all the irreversible political and
symbolic losses caused by our innocent creativity, the
authorities decided to protect the public from us and our
nonconformist thinking. Thus ended our complicated punk
adventure in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

I now have mixed feelings about this trial. On the one
hand, we expect a guilty verdict. Compared to the judicial
machine, we are nobodies, and we have lost. On the other hand,
we have won. The whole world now sees that the criminal case
against us has been fabricated. The system cannot conceal the
repressive nature of this trial. Once again, the world sees
Russia differently from the way Putin tries to present it at
his daily international meetings. Clearly, none of the steps
Putin promised to take toward instituting the rule of law have
been taken. And his statement that this court will be
objective and hand down a fair verdict is yet another
deception of the entire country and the international
community. That is all. Thank you.



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