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Keeping It Legit With Pussy Riot

[Music International]

Pussy Riot’s true punkrawk ethos

Recently, Rob at Reviewer Magazine was apparently contacted by Katya Samutsevich of the anti-Putin Moscow band Pussy Riot who spoke about her incarcerated bandmates and the fake bands…

by Reviewer Rob

"Katya Pussy Riot"

“The girl we know as Katya Pussy Riot


Pussy Riot, the all-female Moscow political punkrawk band (similar in style to the San Francisco riotgrrrl bands of over a decade ago) was back in the news last month due to the copy-cat groups that have sprung up wearing balaclavas and using their name.

Katya Samutsevich is one of the 3 members of the real band Pussy Riot who were locked up in Moscow for speaking out musically against Vladimir Putin by staging an “unlegal” show at the front altar of a large church there. The identity of the other members is still unreleased and their whereabouts is unknown as they are on the lam, in hiding or have possibly fled to outside of Russia. If you have not seen the event, Google it. It’s a powerful statement about the strength of the colorful Russian personality, no matter which side you sympathize with. The 3 known members of Pussy Riot all look good and Samutsevich appears younger than her reported age of 30.

There has been renewed interest in the Pussy Riot case with reports on The Huffington Post and other sites that Samutsevich’s lawyer successfully argued for her release and now she’s speaking out to win freedom for her two bandmates still in the klink.

First, a bit of background about Katya Samutsevich:

Yekaterina Stanislavovna Samutsevich (Russian: Екатери́на Станисла́вовна Самуце́вич), also known as “Katya”, born August 9, 1982 in Moscow, is a Russian political activist. She is a member of the anti-Putinist punk rock group Pussy Riot. On August 17, 2012, she was convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for a performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and sentenced to two years imprisonment. She has been recognized as a political prisoner by the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners. Amnesty International named her a prisoner of conscience due to “the severity of the response of the Russian authorities.”

She was released on probation by a Moscow judge on October 10, 2012 following an argument from her lawyer that she had been stopped by cathedral guards before she could get her guitar out of its case.

She is a computer programmer and a graduate of the Rodchenko School of Photography and Multimedia in Moscow. For two years she worked for a defense contractor on a secret project, to develop software for the nuclear attack submarine K-152 Nerpa. Thereafter she worked as a freelance programmer. She is interested in LGBT issues. Court sessions were attended by her father, Stanislav Samutsevich. Samutsevich has been a member of the Voina collective since 2007. In 2010, Samutsevich was among the Voina activists who attempted to release live cockroaches into the Tagansky Courthouse; the extent to which they succeeded in this action is disputed. She was later prosecuted in the same building for their involvement in Pussy Riot’s “A Punk Prayer”. She also took part in a series of actions, Operation Kiss Garbage, from January through March 2011. This project comprised female members’ kissing policewomen in Moscow Metro stations and on the streets. It was primarily an anti-government protest, but also controversial because the non-consensual “ambush kissing” could be considered sexual battery. [from Wikipedia, 8-26-13]

Pussy Riot is famous for being anti-commercial and Katya has recently went on record stating that she supports the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics Boycott. Katya was so pleasant to speak to, her smile felt so genuine, I chided her jokingly via Skype about one of the typical issues that are held banner-high by punk rock bands – at least here in the U.S. – namely Corporate Greed.

I asked her if there was one thing she could change about her home town of Moscow, what would it be? “That it would not be the capitol.” Oh? What city should be the capitol? “Novosibirsk,” she said.

I asked, “What do you think about Starbucks and Walmart being in Europe?” She laughed. “There are bigger problems than Starbucks and Walmart here, like Putin and nationalism,” she said. “Nationalism in our country is like racism in America,” she said, her heavy Russian accent suddenly finding exactly the right words to express herself. Then as she expanded on the subject the language barrier rose again. She summarized by saying, in a way, it was a bit like asking people, what city they are from.

As a feminist and an anti-sexist I expected her to have an opinion about porn. “Pornography is a problem too. 5 years ago there was not any limits (in Russia)…” but things are getting better, she said, through regulation.

But her real battle today, aside from working for the release of her band mates, is the ripoffs. What about these other groups using your name and posing as Russy Riot, I asked. “Fake bands…” she said of the other groups popping up in Russia, doing shows under the Pussy Riot name and even wearing the balaclavas which they use to stay anonymous.

“Because of our popularity there are other people who want to commercialize,” she said as her smile faded.

What follows is an emailed message from our Katya herself:

“Our group is still alive, unfortunately as you know two of our members are still in prison…
There are a few anonymous members that work with me now and we have have many friends that help us… Now I wrote you text about situation of our group in Russian, because my English is not very good.”

Samutsevich’s original message began like this:

Сейчас у нашей группы сложилась непростая ситуация, когда давление после возбуждения уголовного дела сильно возросло на нас, причем давление идет одновременно с несколько сторон.

The Google translation of her text is printed below in full:

“Now our group has developed a complex situation where the pressure after the criminal case has risen dramatically on us, the pressure is at the same time with multiple parties.

“First of all, we still have to fear on the part of the government in relation to the rest of the participating groups, and in relation to me, Nadia and Masha are still able to bring a new case.
But now the threat against us comes not only from law enforcement (police), but also by people who want to extract the selfish benefit of our situation and taking advantage of the anonymity of our group.

“It comes down to that, the network appeared feykovye group with the same name as ours. They use balaclavas and colorful dresses to be like us, but at the same time they do not do illegal performances, instead they are doing commercial clips, then to continue the business, using our name and our prevailing difficult situation.

“Recently, the network has a weird clip “As in a red jail,” which was announced as our new work. We are not against the creativity of others, but I do know that neither I nor Nadia or Mary, or other anonymous members of the band do not have this video in any way.

“Information on how this video was made ​​by us is incorrect, creating a misconception about us as a group, and distorts our views. For example, this clips girls Navalny support, and we are opposed to nationalism, which now openly promoted Navalny.

“In connection with this, we need an official source, which may be your website to all the people could easily figure out who is who, where we are, and where they can receive the next feykovye group with the name that matches with ours, with the non-us promoting and opposing ideological views us.
Therefore it is very important that we have a website called our group who could easily find any person interested in creativity of our group. We plan to move all of their previous work there, and there lay the new works, lyrics and music videos with the new illegal performances. We will be very glad if you can help us with this.

“As for me personally, I’m working on protecting the rights of our group, and of course, the cancellation penalty Hamovnicheskogo court. We now have to Nadia and Masha stayed court of last resort, where else can be canceled sentence, it is the Supreme Court. I have high hopes for him, but unfortunately, it is very slow, now the repeal of the sentence in the best case, you should wait in October of this year, but it is better than in March 2014, for us it will be a huge victory. Of course, I also like before participating in the work group, but that neither I nor the other participants can not talk about it in detail.”

Here’s the original Russian text of her emailed update:

Сейчас у нашей группы сложилась непростая ситуация, когда давление после возбуждения уголовного дела сильно возросло на нас, причем давление идет одновременно с несколько сторон.

Прежде всего, нам до сих пор приходится опасаться действий со стороны государственной власти по отношению к остальным участницам группы, да и в отношении меня, Нади и Маши все еще могут возбудить новое уголовное дело.

Но сейчас угроза в отношению нас исходит не только от правоохранительных органов (police), но и со стороны людей, желающих извлечь корыстную пользу из нашей ситуации и воспользовавшись анонимностью нашей группы.
Доходит до того, что в сети появились фейковые группы с таким же названием как у нас. Они используют балаклавы и яркие платья, чтобы быть похожими на нас, но, при этом они не делают нелегальных выступлений, вместо этого они делают коммерческие клипы, чтобы потом продолжать коммерческую деятельность, используя наше имя и наше сложившееся трудное положение.

Так, недавно в сети появился странный клип “Как в красной тюрьме”, который был заявлен как наша новая работа. Мы совершенно не против творчества других людей, но я точно знаю, что ни я, ни Надя, ни Маша, ни другие анонимные участницы группы не имеют к этому видео никакого отношения.
Информация о том, что этот клип был сделан нами является неверной, создающей неправильное представление о нас как о группе, а также искажающий наши взгляды. Например, в этом клипы девушки поддерживают Навального, а мы выступаем против национализма, который сейчас откровенно продвигается Навальным.

В связи с этим, нам необходим официальный источник, которым может стать ваш сайт, чтобы все люди смогли легко понять, кто есть кто, где есть мы, а где могут появиться очередные фейковые группы с названием, совпадающим с нашим, при этом не являющимися нами и продвигающие противоположные нам идеологические взгляды.

Поэтому нам очень важно, чтобы у нас появился сайт названием нашей группы, который бы мог легко найти любой человек, интересующийся творчеством нашей группы. Мы планируем перенести все свои предыдущие работы туда, а также выкладывать туда свои новые работы, тексты и клипы с новыми нелегальными выступлениями. Будем очень рады, если вы нам в этом поможете.

Что касается меня лично, я сейчас занимаюсь защитой прав нашей группы, и , конечно, отменой приговора Хамовнического суда. У нас сейчас с Надей и Машей осталась последняя судебная инстанция, где еще может быть отменен приговор, это Верховный суд. У меня большие надежды на него, но к сожалению, все происходит очень медленно, теперь отмену приговора в лучшем случае следует ждать в октябре этого года, но это уже лучше, чем март 2014, для нас это уже будет огромной победой. Конечно, я также как и раньше участвую в творчестве группы, но об этом ни я ни другие участницы не можем говорить об этом подробно.


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For more about the ongoing legal plight of 2 jailed members of Pussy Riot,, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina at Free Pussy Riot. Previously there was a post up there about the imitator bands but that seems to have been removed at this time. ~Editor

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