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 Yevgenia Maltseva ,Anti Pussy Riot Protesters arrested
Anti Pussy Riot Protesters Arrested For Blocking Art Exhibition - ArtLyst Article image

Anti Pussy Riot Protesters Arrested For Blocking Art Exhibition

21-09-2012
 
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Several anti Pussy Riot protesters, dressed in Cossack uniforms, who refused to let the public into an exhibition of paintings by one of the members of the Russian art/punk band have been arrested. The altercation took place outside the Vinzavod art gallery in Moscow last night. The 15 Russian Orthodox Christian activists  disrupted the opening, until police dispersed the protesters, arresting nine of them.

The paintings by Yevgenia Maltseva depicted religious icons and alluded to Vladimir Putin’s rule and his close relationship with the church hierarchy.  Three members of the band were jailed for two years last month after attempting to perform a live protest at the altar of Moscow's main cathedral. They staged a "punk prayer", performance piece, calling on the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of President Vladimir Putin.

This latest exhibition featured female statues with aureoles above their heads and dressed in fluorescent yellow and red, alluding to Pussy Riot's trademark balaclavas. The gallery said on its website the aim of the exhibition was to free the icons of their historical background that includes "feudalism, despotism, patriarchate".

The court's decision to jail the women aroused a sensation in Russia and internationally. However due to the stranglehold of Russian television coverage, the country has reacted apathetically to the case. A series of Levada Center polls showed that, of 1600 Russians surveyed in 45 cities nationwide, 42% also believed Pussy Riot had been arrested for insulting the shrines and beliefs of the Orthodox Church. Meanwhile, 29% saw it as a case of general hooliganism, while only 19% saw it as a political protest against Putin. Overall opinion was for the most part negative or indifferent. Only 6% sympathised with Pussy Riot, while 41% felt antipathy towards them. 44% believed the trial was “fair and impartial”, while 17% believed it was not. Of those following the case, 86% favored some form of punishment, ranging from prison to forced labor or fines, while 5% said they should not have been punished at all. A prison sentence of 2 to 7 years was seen as appropriate by 33%, whereas 43% saw two or more years as excessive, and a further 15% said the defendants should not have been prosecuted in court.

The conservatism of the public has been criticized by many Russian commentators. Levada Center director Lev Gudkov commented on the results, stating that most Russians get their information from television, and therefore perceive events in accordance with the state’s “official version”. Monitoring of Russian media, by Exovera Media Analysis company, showed that some readers were clearly outraged by the “prayer”, and concerned for the right of the majority to worship in peace. Researchers noted that symbolic value of the cathedral, which had been torn down in the 1930's by Stalinists, may have played a role. In monitored outlets and forums, there was awareness of being judged by the global community, whose response, in some cases, was referred to as “hysterical” and unfair.

Meanwhile international attitudes towards the case has had a different reaction ,Yoko Ono, Lennon's widow, will hand over the Lennon/Ono Grant for Peace award with the backing of rights organization Amnesty International at a New York ceremony scheduled for Friday. Organizers said in a statement on their website that they hoped the award would mean that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, the jailed Pussy Riot rockers, are released as soon as possible.

"Their lengthy trial recently concluded with a two-year jail sentence that has seen strong international criticism, calling into question Russia's policies toward freedom of speech and freedom of expression," the statement continued.

An appeal by Pussy Riot is due to start on October 1.


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