The Russian feminist punk collective best known for their protests againt Russia's leader Vladimir Putin will hold two concerts in Zagreb on December 3-4. After arriving in Zagreb on Sunday, they held a news conference in which they talked about the increasingly oppressive atmosphere in Russia targeting activists and Putin's opponents.
The Russian feminist punk collective best known for their performances protesting againt Russia's leader Vladimir Putin will hold two concerts in Zagreb on December 3-4.
The group came to worldwide prominence in 2012 after five of its members staged a protest against Putin in a Russian Orthodox church in Moscow during the country's presidential election campaign in which Putin ran. Three of the members were later arrested and sentenced to two years in prison.
"That was a surprise, not only for the Western world, but for a lot of Russians. But now, cases like this happen almost every week. They can open a criminal case against you over a Facebook post, or because of a funny meme mocking Russian authorities," Maria Alyokhina told reporters in a news conference in Zagreb on Sunday.
To illustrate the growing oppression climate in Russia, they mentioned the case of activist Pyotr Verzilov, an associate of Pussy Riot who participated with them in a pitch invasion in the World Cup final in Moscow in July, and later spent 15 days in prison.
After his release, he was hospitalised in September, for losing his eyesight and the ability to walk and talk, leading some to believe that he had been poisoned during his time in prison.
"The reason of this poisoning, as we all think, is an investigation which he started, about the murder of Russian journalists and film-makers in central Africa. So on the day he received the first report about these murders, he as poisoned, and he almost died," Alyokhina added.
Verzilov was involved in uncovering details of the death of three Russian journalists who were killed in the Central African Republic in July this year while investigating activities of a private Russian mercenary firm owned by a businessman linked to Putin.
While local authorities and Russia's foreign ministry both say they were victims of a random armed robbery, activists who investigated the circumstances of their death believe they were actually murdered.
In Zagreb, the group is expected to stage Riot Days, a multimedia performance based on a 2017 book by Alyokhina, which mixes music, documentary footage, and theatre with social and political commentary.
Another member of the collective, Sasha Klokova, said that the performance on Monday would be largely improvised, in keeping with the collective's art punk style.
"Yesterday at the hotel we decided how to end these songs. I think most of it will be improvisation, because with Kiryl (Masheka) we did a lot of work in theatre, and we really love to give it as it comes," Klokova said.
Originally intended to be a one-off performance before they continue their European tour, the second show at Zagreb's Tuskanac cinema, staged as part of the local Human Rights Film Festival, was added after their Monday concert was sold out.