Published: January 16, 2013 (Issue # 1742)
St. Petersburg will demonstrate solidarity with Maria Alyokhina, an imprisoned member of the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot, by holding a roundtable titled “Class, Gender, Politics: Russia After Pussy Riot.”
International Day of Solidarity with Alyokhina will be held Wednesday, with solidarity events planned in cities including Berlin, Bonn, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Milan, Munich, Paris and Stockholm. Check www.freepussyriot.org for more information about the events.
The campaign is scheduled to coincide with a court hearing called to decide whether Alyokhina deserves to be released, with her sentence exchanged for a suspended one, on the grounds that she is a single mother of a young child.
The hearing will take place in the IK-28 female prison colony in Berezniki in the Perm Krai, some 2,000 kilometers southeast of St. Petersburg.
Alyokhina has reportedly encountered particularly harsh conditions in her prison colony, being repeatedly punished for alleged “oversleeping” and confined to a solitary cell. There have also been reports of hostile attitudes toward her from her fellow inmates.
Alongside Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich, Alyokhina was sentenced to two years in prison for “hooliganism motivated by hatred for a religious group.”
The Kafkaesque trial, which ended in August in Moscow, saw the defendants deprived of food, water and sleep, defense witnesses ejected from the court so that they could not testify, police dogs in the courtroom and the arrests of Pussy Riot supporters outside the court — most infamously that of former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, who was then accused of biting a police officer.
Samutsevich was later released on a suspended sentence.
Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina have been in prison since March 3, 2012, when they were arrested on the eve of the Russian presidential election.
Some see the unusually severe treatment of the band’s members as revenge by Vladimir Putin, whom the band confronted and ridiculed in their performances and videos.
Pussy Riot’s support group has urged people to organize readings, music festivals of support or public events. “Any sharing of information about the lawless imprisonment of Maria is helpful and may persuade the judge to release Maria,” they wrote in a statement.
St. Petersburg’s roundtable will be held at the Center for Independent Social Research at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
One of the topics of discussion will be whether Pussy Riot’s feminism really threatened the Russian constitution, which guarantees equal rights for men and women, as the Moscow court claimed.
Meanwhile, the New Year holidays were marred by the death of the legendary St. Petersburg drummer Yevgeny Guberman.
Guberman, who died on Dec. 30 at the age of 57, was best-loved for his work with the seminal Leningrad underground rock bands Akvarium and Zoopark. See article, this page.