Yekaterina Samutsevich: Closing Statement at the Pussy Riot Trial

FromChtodelat News:

Yekaterina Samutsevich, defendant in the criminal case against the feminist punk group Pussy Riot:

During the closing statement, the defendant is expected to repent or express regret for her deeds, or to enumerate attenuating circumstances. In my case, as in the case of my colleagues in the group, this is completely unnecessary. Instead, I want to express my views about the causes of what has happened with us.

The fact that Christ the Savior Cathedral had become a significant symbol in the political strategy of our powers that be was already clear to many thinking people when Vladimir Putin’s former [KGB] colleague Kirill Gundyaev took over as head of the Russian Orthodox Church. After this happened, Christ the Savior Cathedral began to be used openly as a flashy setting for the politics of the security services, which are the main source of power [in Russia].

Why did Putin feel the need to exploit the Orthodox religion and its aesthetics? After all, he could have employed his own, far more secular tools of power—for example, national corporations, or his menacing police system, or his own obedient judiciary system. It may be that the tough, failed policies of Putin’s government, the incident with the submarine Kursk, the bombings of civilians in broad daylight, and other unpleasant moments in his political career forced him to ponder the fact that it was high time to resign; otherwise, the citizens of Russia would help him do this. Apparently, it was then that he felt the need for more convincing, transcendental guarantees of his long tenure at the helm. It was here that the need arose to make use of the aesthetics of the Orthodox religion, historically associated with the heyday of Imperial Russia, where power came not from earthly manifestations such as democratic elections and civil society, but from God Himself.
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Russia: Jailed members of anarcha-revolutionary band, “Pussy Riot” on hunger strike

From Common Dreams:

Three members of Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist punk-rock band, began a hunger strike Wednesday after a Moscow court suddenly told them they must prepare their defense for trial by Monday.

Maria Alyokhina, Yakaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were taken into custody in March, after the group’s February performance of “Virgin Mary Put Putin Away,” an anti-Putin song, inside the Russian Orthodox Church’s main cathedral, asking the Virgin Mary to chase President Vladimir Putin out of power.

The three women were arrested over four months ago and have been held without bail on charges of criminal hooliganism — which carry a possible seven-year prison sentence. Two other female members of the band have avoided arrest thus far.

“I announce a hunger strike because it is unlawful,” said Tolokonnikova, wearing a T-shirt with the famous slogan of the Spanish Civil War, “No pasaran!” (“They shall not pass”), emblazoned across it.

“Until July 9 is not enough (time) for me. I think it is absolutely unlawful,” she said in the Tagansky district court.

“I am categorically against it and I announce a hunger strike,” Alekhina also said after the court delivered a separate ruling on her and another one on Samutsevich.

As the case generates media attention, activists all over the world are advocating for Pussy Riot’s release. Over 100 Russian cultural figures, including some known for pro-government views, have signed a letter calling for the release of the trio. “We see no legal basis or practical reason for the further isolation of these young women, who do not pose any real danger to society,” the letter said.

Video and more here

An interview with Russell Maroon Shoats on Democracy, Matriarchy, Occupy Wall Street, and Food Security

Interviewer: How would you define democracy?

Maroon: In it’s broadest sense – to me – democracy is the ability of the individual to exercise self-determination in the core areas of economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex, war and peace; taking under consideration the need to both support and guide children until they can responsibly exercise those things on their own.

If one falls victim to believing what Marimba Ani calls “rhetorical ethics,” (the practice that has held sway surrounding the word democracy) then you would dismiss my definition as superfluous. Nowadays, however, more of the masses, globally, are accepting the fact that except for a small minority, democracy is something they do not exercise in any of those core areas.

So the question we must ask ourselves is “How do we construct societies where the individual is able to broadly exercise self-determination?

Interviewer: Do you find the concept of democracy to be useful to popular movements?

Maroon: For the already mentioned reasons, the exercise of democracy/self-determination is paramount at every stage of a popular movement, and for such an effort to remain true to the word “popular.” After all, individuals usually feel a need to look out for their own interest, and to promote and support democracy/self-determination goes hand in hand with that need. If a popular movement deviates from that, then it too will fall into the practice of utilizing rhetorical ethics if it continues to call itself popular.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Reproductive Freedom News Round Up

Courtesy of SQUAT Birth Journal, here is a round up of recent news around birth, reproductive rights, and mothers fighting for their dignity.

Midwives and supporters gather outside the Arizona state capital
on theInternational Day of the Midwife
Source: Desert Free Press
Last week people around the world celebrated the International Day of the Midwife, organizing walks and talks to celebrate the role of midwives in serving women and babies, particularly in developing countries. The Virtual International Day of the Midwife hosted a 24-hour online conference, and the proceedings are now available online.
Afghanistan is the worst place to be a mother, according to Save the Children’s Annual Global Mother’s Index. One of every 11 women die in childbirth in Afghanistan, and only one of every five children in the country will live to age 5. In contrast, Norway was deemed the best place to be a mother, with the US at spot 31. Continue reading

Urgent Need for Legal Funds for Sarah- Pittsburgh Pro-Choice Activist

Sarah – a pro-choice activist and feminist is in urgent need of legal funds surrounding politically charged criminal proceedings she’ll be facing in the coming months.

Police arrested Sarah in December 2010 during a regularly occurring pro-choice demo where she and other activists hold welcoming signs for patients entering reproductive health clinics to combat the harassment anti-choicers inflict on patients. The courts pinned Sarah with outlandish felony and misdemeanor charges. On arrest, the arresting officer purposefully misgendered Sarah as male (despite previously referring to Sarah as “she”) before his colleagues subjected her to abuses within the jail due to her sexual orientation and gender expression.

Sarah is currently on her way to trial. The first preliminary hearing ended in a continuance as neither the anti-choicers nor the police showed up. During the second preliminary hearing date, all legally involved were in attendance. During the hearing the antis were relentless, stating blatant lies on the stand. The judge recommended a plea deal to drop Sarah’s charges to a summary offense of which the antis turned down. The judge attempted to convince them that the Christian thing to do would be to have some mercy – advising them to think very hard about choosing to disrupt Sarah’s life in such a way.  Ignoring the judge’s advice, the antis insisted on pressing charges. Sarah is a queer, single mother of a three year old child. As apparently these “pro-family” Christians have little room for consideration of the welfare of children beginning life outside the womb, Sarah is being forced into a long criminal court process during which she will have to spend time away from her child and afford childcare costs.

Anti-choice Christians claim that they care about women and children. They allege to come from a place of gentle love and compassion. These are the same people who have told pro-choice counter protesters (trigger warning!) that women’s clothes invite rape, that they themselves would rape women if it weren’t for Jesus, and that child victims of molestation and sexual assault who undergo abortions should face jail time, among other misogynistic, infectious, and anti-family sentiments. These people clearly demonstrate the anti-choice movement’s true purpose: controlling women. It is not about caring for the life and health of children or their parents. Countering anti-choice harassment and supporting patients is very important for these reasons and a thousand others. We cannot let these people and their lies stop patient support, nor can we allow the legal system to harm mothers and children in our communities.

Through organizing and attending clinic protests over the past months, Sarah has shown endless commitment to supporting women and countering the damaging effects of the anti-choice movement in Pittsburgh. Please show her your support in return.

Sarah is in urgent need of monetary support so that she can be properly represented in court to allow her to get back to her normal life with her family. We need to raise $5,000 to cover expenses including those for legal counsel, court fees, and childcare costs.

(Note: Danielle Iorio will be handling the majority of donations made to Sarah’s legal fund in order to maintain Sarah’s privacy.)

To donate securely electronically using paypal, click here:

Please submit cash and checks to Danielle Iorio.


Checks can be made out to Danielle Iorio and can be sent to the Pittsburgh ABC PO BOx:

Sarah’s Legal Fund

c/o ABC Pgh

PO Box 9272

Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Please direct any further questions to

Thank you very much for your support!


Resisting Gender Violence and the Prison Industrial Complex

–An interview with Victoria Law

By Angola 3 News

Victoria Law is a longtime prison activist and the author of the 2009 book, Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women(PM Press). Law’s essay “Sick of the Abuse: Feminist Responses to Sexual Assault, Battering, and Self Defense,” is featured in the new book, entitled The Hidden 1970s: Histories of Radicalism, edited by Dan Berger.

In this interview, Law discusses her new article, which provides a history of radical feminist resistance to the criminalization of women who have defended themselves from gender violence. Furthermore, Law presents a prison abolitionist critique of how the mainstream women’s movement has embraced the US criminal justice system as a solution for combating violence against women.

Previously interviewed by Angola 3 News about the torture of women in US prisons, Law is now on the road with the Community and Resistance Tour.

Angola 3 News: In your essay “Sick of the Abuse,” you write that “a woman’s right to defend herself (and her children) from assault became a feminist rallying point throughout the 1970s.” You focus on the four separate stories of Yvonne Wanrow, Inez Garcia, Joan Little, and Dessie Woods. All four women were arrested for self-defense and their cases received national attention with the support of the radical women’s movement. Can you briefly explain their cases and why they were so important for the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s?
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