Yekaterina Samutsevich: Freed Pussy Riot member calls for boycott of Russia

Yekaterina Samutsevich poses for a photographer. Credit: Getty Images
Yekaterina Samutsevich poses for a photographer.
Credit: Getty Images

This week, two members of Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot, Nadja Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were refused parole. They are serving a two-year prison sentence for performing a 40-second anti-Kremlin protest song in an Russian Orthodox cathedral.

Yekaterina Samutsevich, a third member of Pussy Riot who was also convicted but freed on appeal, spoke from Moscow to Metro via Skype about the protest group’s fate, jail-time and the human rights situation in Russia.

Metro: Last October, you had your sentence suspended and freed on appeal. Are you free to go where and do what you want?

Samutsevich: Not really. I am not allowed to leave Moscow without permission from a supervisor. And I can’t leave Russia for two years. My biggest limitation is that I will be sent to prison if I break the law at any point. I can speak freely and meet people, however.

When was the last time you spoke with Nadja [Tolokonnikova] and Maria [Alyokhina]?

A long time ago. After the trial, I tried to call them in prison. I used false names. But quite soon they recognized my voice. I got a call in which I was told that this carry-on was not allowed and that they knew it was me. We still try to communicate, but carefully. But letters sometimes take months to arrive. I haven’t been in contact with Maria and Nadja for a while now.

How is their situation?

That’s a difficult question to answer, because I don’t see them in person. I get the impression that Maria is very active. She is a fighter and wants to fight the system. Nadja deals with this in a more philosophical way. We do have information that they have problems with their health – serious problems. Nadja has headaches. Maria has problems with her eyes. But she can’t see a doctor for this. They do keep on fighting.

How did it feel that you were freed and they weren’t?

I felt like everyone would feel. On one side I was happy and relieved. I had not expected this. At the same time I felt the pain that the others had to go to prison.

Russia is an important trading partner in the world. Is an embargo a good way to protest against the fall of human rights in Russia?

Everyone understands that less trade with Russia has consequences. An embargo is indeed an option, economical and cultural.


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