Pussy Riot: Maria Alyokhina’s Closing Statement

This trial is il­lus­tratory and il­lu­min­ating. Not once will the au­thor­ities blush over it and be ashamed of it. Every stage of it is quintesen­tial of iniquity.

How has this happened that our per­form­ance being ini­tially a small and some­what awk­ward act has grown into a big dis­aster? Obviously in a healthy so­ciety that is im­possible. As a state, Russia has long been akin to an or­ganism ill to its core. And this mor­bidity ex­plodes with res­on­ance when you scrape a pointing abs­cess. This mor­bidity would get first pub­licly and linger­ingly con­cealed but later would al­ways get re­solved through con­ver­sa­tion. Behold, this is the form of con­ver­sa­tion our au­thor­ities are cap­able of. This trial isn’t just a mean grot­esque mask, this is a face of con­ver­sa­tion with a person in our country.

Often for a con­ver­sa­tion about a problem on the public level an im­petus in­cident is re­quired. And it’s in­ter­esting that our in­cident is de­per­son­al­ized to begin with. Because speaking about Putin, we first of all mean not Vladimir Putin, but Putin as a system cre­ated by him. The ver­tical power struc­ture, where all gov­erning is being car­ried out al­most manu­ally. And in this ver­tical power struc­ture public opinion is com­pletely dis­reg­arded. And what bothers me the most, is dis­regard for the opinion of the younger gen­er­a­tions. In our opinion the in­ef­fect­ive­ness of this type of gov­ern­ment gets re­vealed in al­most everything.

And here, in my closing state­ment, I’d like to shortly de­scribe my firsthand ex­per­i­ence of clash with this system.

The edu­ca­tion, from which the es­tab­lish­ment of a person in a so­ciety be­gins, ac­tu­ally ig­nores the person’s in­di­vidu­ality. A per­son­al­ized ap­proach isn’t ap­plied, studies of cul­ture, philo­sophy and basic prin­ciples of civil so­ciety are lacking. Officially these sub­jects are present in the cur­riculum but the form of their study fol­lows the Soviet pat­tern. As a result we wit­ness mar­gin­al­iz­a­tion of modern art in a person’s per­cep­tion, lack of mo­tiv­a­tion for philo­soph­ical thinking, gender ste­reo­typing and making a person’s civic aware­ness take the backseat.

Modern edu­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions teach people from their child­hood to live auto­mat­ic­ally, do not in­tro­duce key is­sues ap­pro­priate to the age, foster cruelty and in­tol­er­ance to dis­sent. From the child­hood a person for­sakes his liberties.

I have ex­per­i­ence of vis­iting psy­chi­atric clinic for minors. And I say with cer­tainty, that any teen­ager ex­hib­iting a de­gree of dis­sent can find him­self in such in­sti­tu­tion. Part of the pa­tients come from orphan­ages. And in our country psy­chi­atric hos­pit­al­iz­a­tion of a kid who tried to run away from orphanage, treat­ment with powerful tran­quil­izers, such as Aminasine, used on Soviet dis­senters in the 70’s, is re­garded as a norm. This is es­pe­cially dra­matic due to gen­eral pun­itive slant and lack of psy­cho­lo­gical aid as such. Entire com­mu­nic­a­tion with chil­dren there is based on ex­ploit­a­tion of the sense of fear and their en­forced sub­mis­sion. As a result, the level of their cruelty grows many­fold. Many kids there are il­lit­erate, but nobody at­tempts to fight this. To the con­trary, the rins­ings of mo­tiv­a­tion for de­vel­op­ment get put off. A person clams up and stops trusting the world.

I’d like to note, that such way of growing up ap­par­ently im­pedes the real­iz­a­tion of inner freedom, and re­li­gious freedom as well, and un­for­tu­nately it’s a mass phe­nomenon. The con­sequence of this pro­cess is the on­to­lo­gical, ex­ist­en­tial sub­missive­ness within so­cial­iz­a­tion. This trans­ition or breaking point if judged from the Christian cul­ture stand­point is not­able by the fact that mean­ings and sym­bols, as we see, are being turned around. To wit hu­mility, one of Christian prin­cipal no­tions, is ex­ist­en­tially un­der­stood not as a way of puri­fic­a­tion, em­power­ment and even­tual de­liv­er­ance of the human, but in con­trast as a way of his en­slave­ment. Quoting Nikolai Berdyaev we may say that “on­to­logy of hu­mility is the on­to­logy of God’s slaves and not God’s children.”

When I was or­gan­izing eco­lo­gical move­ment, I fi­nally de­veloped a pri­ority of inner freedom as a basis for ac­tion. And also the im­port­ance of ac­tion in it­self. It still be­wilders me that in our country a mass of a few thou­sands people is re­quired for put­ting a stop to iniquity of one or a handful of of­fi­cials. I’d like to note that our trial is an il­lu­min­ating con­firm­a­tion of that. A mass of thou­sands of people all around the world is re­quired for proving the ob­vious, that all three of us are in­no­cent. We’re in­no­cent, the en­tire world says that! It’s being said in con­certs, in the Internet, the whole world says that in the press! It’s being said in the par­lia­ment. British prime min­ister greets our pres­ident speaking not about the Olympics, but asking why three in­no­cent girls are jailed. That’s a shame!

What’s more sur­prising is that people don’t be­lieve they can in any way af­fect the au­thor­ities. During pickets and ral­lies, when I was col­lecting sig­na­tures and or­gan­izing their col­lec­tion, I was asked by many people, and they asked that with genuine sur­prise, what they have to do with the only Russian nat­ural re­serve or relict ju­niper in the Krasnodar re­gion, with that small patch. Why they should be con­cerned that wife of our prime-​minister Dmitri Medvedev plans to build there a res­id­ency and des­troy it. These people… This is an­other con­firm­a­tion, that people in our country stopped sensing own­er­ship over their land. They stopped seeing them­selves as cit­izens. They see them­selves simply as ro­botic masses. They don’t even feel they own a forest next to their house. I doubt they realize that their very house be­longs to them. Because if an ex­cav­ator comes to their driveway and they’re told they need to evac­uate, that their house should un­for­tu­nately be de­mol­ished to make space for a res­id­ency of an of­fi­cial, they will obed­i­ently pack up and go out to the street. And in the street they will sit until the au­thor­ities tell them what to do next. They’re totally ever­teb­rate. That’s very sad.

I’ve been locked up for al­most half a year and I real­ized that prison is Russia in mini­ature. For ex­ample the man­age­ment is the same ver­tical power struc­ture, where all de­cision making oc­curs through a direct in­volve­ment of the chief. Horizontal dis­tri­bu­tion of du­ties, which would make everybody’s life con­sid­er­ably easier, is non-​existent. Personal ini­ti­ative is non-​existent either. Snitching and mu­tual sus­pi­cious­ness flourish. In the de­ten­tion fa­cility, as in our country, everything is aimed at de­per­son­al­iz­a­tion of a human being, re­du­cing it to a func­tion, whether it’s a func­tion of a worker or a pris­oner. Strict limits of the daily schedule, which gets used to quickly, are akin to the life pro­gram im­posed on a person from the birthday. Within these limits people start to ap­pre­ciate trivial things. In prison that would be for ex­ample a table sheet or plastic dish­ware, which can only be gotten through a per­sonal ap­proval of the chief. In the out­side life it’s the status in so­ciety, which people hold dearly, some­thing I have been fas­cin­ated with all my life.

Another point is the per­cep­tion of this order as a show, which in reality turns out to be chaos. An or­derly in­sti­tu­tion on the out­side, in­side it re­veals total dis­or­gan­iz­a­tion and lack of op­tim­iz­a­tion of most pro­cesses. Obviously it doesn’t help man­age­ment. To the con­trary, people start to feel in­creas­ingly lost in time and space. A person, as every­where in the country, doesn’t know whom to ad­dress his ques­tion. Therefore he ad­dresses it to the chief of de­ten­tion fa­cility. On the out­side this chief is Putin. It can be said that we’re against Putin’s chaos which is only called ‘re­gime’ formally.

Depicting in our lyric a col­lective image of the system, where in our opinion muta­tion of al­most all in­sti­tu­tions is taking place while their ex­terior is kept in­tact, and where civil so­ciety so dear to us is being des­troyed, we don’t make direct state­ment. We only use the form of direct state­ment as means of artistic ex­pres­sion. The only thing identical is the mo­tiv­a­tion. Our mo­tiv­a­tion is identical to mo­tiv­a­tion of direct state­ment. It’s more elo­quently ex­pressed in the words of the Gospel “For every one who asks re­ceives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” I, and all of us, sin­cerely be­lieve that it will be opened for us. But alas so far the bars are closed on us. That’s very weird, that in their re­ac­tion to our ac­tions, the au­thor­ities totally dis­regard the his­tor­ical back­ground of ex­pres­sion of dissent.

“Poor is the country, where plain hon­esty is per­ceived as heroism at best and as a psy­chi­atric dis­order at worst” — wrote in the 70’s dis­sident Bukovsky. Not so much time has passed since those days, but it ap­pears as if neither the Great Terror nor the res­ist­ance did ever occur. I think that we’re ac­cused by for­getful people.

“Many of them said, “He has a demon, and he is mad; why listen to him?” ” These words be­long to Jews ac­cusing Jesus Christ of blas­phemy. “The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we stone you but for blas­phemy” (John 10:33) It’s in­ter­esting that it’s this verse that Russian Orthodox Church uses to ex­press its opinion about blas­phemy. This opinion is com­mitted to paper and added to the ma­ter­ials of our crim­inal case. Expressing this opinion Russian Orthodox Church refers to it as to a static re­li­gious truth. Gospel is no longer un­der­stood as rev­el­a­tion, which it was ini­tially, but as a kind of solid block which can be torn up to quo­ta­tions and tuck any­where, into any doc­u­ment, used for any pur­pose. Russian Orthodox Church didn’t even bother to ex­amine the con­text in which the word ‘blas­phemy’ is used, that in this case it is ap­plied to Jesus Christ himself.

I think re­li­gious truth should not be static, that un­der­standing of im­manent ways of spir­itual de­vel­op­ment, human ad­versities, his dualism, his se­junc­tion is re­quired, that all these ex­per­i­ences are es­sen­tial for de­vel­op­ment, that only through these ex­per­i­ences a human can achieve some­thing and keep achieving, that re­li­gious truth is a pro­cess and not ac­com­plish­ment which can be tuck any­where. And all these things I men­tioned, all these pro­cesses are re­flected upon in art and philo­sophy, modern art in­cluded. An artistic set­ting can and in my view must con­tain inner con­flict. And I’m very an­noyed by the phrase ‘so called’ the pro­sec­u­tion uses in modern art’s regard.

I’d like to point out, that during the trial over the poet Brodsky, ex­actly the same figure of speech was used. His po­etry was la­belled as ‘so called po­etry’ and the wit­nesses never read it. Just as some of our wit­nesses weren’t the eye­wit­nesses of the event, but watched a video in the Internet.

Our apo­lo­gies are prob­ably also la­belled as ‘so called’ in the col­lective chapter of the in­dict­ment, al­though it’s in­sulting and causes me moral damage and emo­tional trauma. Because our apo­lo­gies were sin­cere. I’m so sorry that after so many words uttered you still don’t un­der­stand them. Or are you being cun­ning calling our apo­logy in­sin­cere? I don’t un­der­stand what else you want to hear. For me it’s this very trial which is ‘so called’. And I’m not scared of you. I’m not afraid of lies and sham, poorly dec­or­ated lies in the ver­dict of this so called court, be­cause you only can de­prive me of so called freedom. This is the only type of freedom ex­isting in Russian Federation. My inner freedom no one can take from me. It lives and will live on through the word, thanks to open­ness, when thou­sands of people will read it and hear. This freedom per­sists with each con­cerned person, who hears us in this country. With every­body who found pieces of this trial in them­selves, as once did Franz Kafka and Guy Debord. I be­lieve that it’s hon­esty and open­ness, thirst for truth which will make us a little freer.

We will see this.

  3 comments for “Pussy Riot: Maria Alyokhina’s Closing Statement

  1. mauko
    20 August 2012 at 6:21 pm

    This is just lame, this Pussy Crap is not punk !

  2. zero
    31 August 2012 at 12:26 am

    “Free Pussy Riot” written in blood at Russian murder scene
    By Thomas Grove | Reuters – 2 hrs 25 mins ago
    Related Content

    Members of the fe­male punk band “Pussy Riot” (R-​L) Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina sit in a glass-​walled cage after a court hearing in Moscow, August 17, 2012. REUTERS/​Maxim ShemetovEnlarge Photo

    Members of the fe­male punk band …

    MOSCOW (Reuters) — Two women were found stabbed to death in a Russian apart­ment with the words “Free Pussy Riot” written on the wall in what was prob­ably blood, in­vest­ig­ators said on Thursday, stir­ring more pas­sion over the women jailed for a protest in a church.

    A Russian Orthodox Church of­fi­cial said sup­porters of Pussy Riot now had “blood on their con­science”, the Interfax news agency reported.

    A lawyer for the women, who were sen­tenced to two years in prison this month for sta­ging a “punk prayer” against Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s main cathedral, said nobody in the band or con­nected with it was in­volved in the crime.

    Nikolai Polozov, said the words scrawled on the wall may have been a “pro­voca­tion” aimed to dis­credit Pussy Riot.

    The bodies of a 76-​year-​old pen­sioner and her 38-​year-​old daughter were found on Wednesday in their apart­ment in the city of Kazan, the fed­eral Investigative Committee said in a state­ment. They died from knife wounds.

    BLOOD ON CONSCIENCE

    “At the crime scene, on the wall of the apart­ment was dis­covered an in­scrip­tion pre­sum­ably written in blood: ‘Free Pussy Riot’,” said the com­mittee, which is Russia’s top in­vest­ig­ative body and an­swers to Putin.

    Footage on state-​run Rossiya tele­vi­sion showed the words written in big red cap­ital let­ters on the kit­chen wall. There was no ap­parent con­nec­tion between the vic­tims and Pussy Riot.

    Five mem­bers of the group burst into Moscow’s Christ the Saviour cathedral in February and per­formed a “punk prayer” asking the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin, who was then cam­paigning for elec­tion as pres­ident after four years as prime minister.

    The trial and sen­ten­cing of the act­iv­ists has drawn sharp cri­ti­cism from for­eign gov­ern­ments, mu­si­cians and rights groups, and was seen by Putin’s foes in Russia as polit­ic­ally mo­tiv­ated pun­ish­ment for dissent.

    The head of the church de­part­ment for re­la­tions with the armed forces and law en­force­ment agen­cies, Dimitry Smirnov, sug­gested the crime might not have oc­curred if Pussy Riot had not re­ceived vocal sup­port from Russian and Western critics of their trial.

    “This blood is on the con­science of so-​called com­munity that has sup­ported the par­ti­cipants in the act in Christ the Saviour cathedral, be­cause as a result people with un­stable psyches have re­ceived carte-​blanche,” Interfax quoted Smirnov as saying.

    The Russian Orthodox Church has cast the per­form­ance as a blas­phemous at­tack on the country’s main faith, and na­tion­alist pro-​church act­iv­ists have called for vi­gil­antes to pro­tect churches from desecration.

    MONSTROUS PROVOCATION

    Polozov, a lawyer for the jailed per­formers, said the crime was not con­nected with Pussy Riot or its supporters.

    “It’s hor­rible. In my view it is either a mon­strous pro­voca­tion or the act of a sick ma­niac. In any case it’s not con­nected with Pussy Riot be­cause Pussy Riot only sup­ports peaceful and non-​violent protests,” he said.

    “There have been many protests in sup­port of Pussy Riot and they’ve never been vi­olent,” said Polozov, who ap­pealed the Pussy Riot con­vic­tions on Monday.

    A spokesman for the re­gional Investigative Committee branch in Kazan, 800 km (500 miles) east of Moscow, said he did not be­lieve a sup­porter of Pussy Riot was responsible.

    “It was a reg­ular rob­bery, a reg­ular rob­bery and some de­gen­erate wrote that. It’s doubtful that some (Pussy Riot) sup­porter wrote that,” Andrei Sheptitsky said by telephone.

    Bloggers sym­path­etic to Pussy Riot said it would be ri­dicu­lous to blame the crime on their supporters.

    “Supporters of Pussy Riot are re­spons­ible for let­ting loose war in Syria,” Slavik Tsener wrote with ap­parent sar­casm on his Twitter microblog.

    Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were con­victed of hoo­liganism mo­tiv­ated by re­li­gious hatred on August 17.

    They said the per­form­ance, which came amidst a series of op­pos­i­tion street protests that were the largest of Putin’s 12-​year rule, was meant as cri­ti­cism of Putin’s tightly con­trolled polit­ical system and the close ties between church and state in Russia, which the con­sti­tu­tion says is a sec­ular country.

    A survey re­leased on Thursday by state-​controlled All-​Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) showed 33 per­cent of those asked found the two-​year sen­tences too harsh, while 31 per­cent said they were appropriate.

    Fifteen per­cent said they were too le­nient and 10 per­cent said the women should not have been tried at all, ac­cording to VTsIOM, which in­ter­viewed 1,600 people in 46 provinces.

    (Additional re­porting by Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by Steve Gutterman and Andrew Roche)

  3. Illan
    2 September 2012 at 7:37 am

    The above story was a do­mestic dis­pute between a man (now charged) and one of the vic­tims. He ad­mitted to leaving the ‘Free Pussy Riot’ note to try to throw the po­lice off the scent: http://​www​.nytimes​.com/​2​0​1​2​/​0​9​/​0​1​/​w​o​r​l​d​/​e​u​r​o​p​e​/​p​u​s​s​y​-​r​i​o​t​-​m​u​r​d​e​r​-​a​-​d​o​m​e​s​t​i​c​-​d​i​s​p​u​t​e​.​h​tml

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