Starting a Pussy Riot

Meet the collective campaigning for the Russian punks' freedom and wish Yekaterina Samutsevich a Happy 30th Birthday

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Let’s Start A Pussy Riot is just one example of a group of people who’ve been inspired to take action following Pussy Riot's arrest and trial after their 'punk prayer' protest in a Moscow cathedral. (The verdict is expected on August 17, and prosecution have requested three years' imprisonment.) The combination of three smaller collectives, Not So Popular, Storm in a Teacup and Girls Get Busy, Let’s Start A Pussy Riot’s aim is to continue to support Pussy Riot, while also celebrating freedom of speech. Planning to release a zine in November, (which is accompanied by a blog anyone can submit to) contributors so far include Tobi Vail, Meadham Kirchhoff, and The Slits’ Viv Albertine. Today is also Yekaterina's 30th birthday, and Let’s Start A Pussy Riot want you to send in your birthday wishes via videos, messages and drawings. And don’t forget Amnesty’s Text Campaign.

Dazed Digital: What is it about Pussy Riot’s case that has persuaded you to devote so much of your time to their cause?

Emely Neu from Not So Popular: The first time I heard about Pussy Riot was before they got arrested, I saw a mini interview somewhere as well as footage from their gig on the underground in Moscow.
I had been reading about Voina in 2009 out of interest about the art collectives in Russia. It was Pussy Riots' courage and creativity that had a very jaw-dropping effect on me. Their actions have this raw, colourful and strong power of DIY, which is also very inspiring and infectious. It is this certain power of Punk that I hadn't experienced in my generation before. Injustice is a very important word in the case of Pussy Riot and although they have experienced it, they haven't stopped raising their voices.

DD: How do you think the trial outcome will affect the direction of your collective?
Emely Neu:
Whatever the outcome is, it has inspired us to engage into a creative dialogue with others. Collaboration has always been a very important part of our work and creative process but since we have teamed up with GGB and Storm In A Teacup, it has been really empowering to see what we can put together in a short amount of time (for example the Pussy Riot Fundraiser, we organised it within 1 1/2 weeks).  The case also made us take our freedom not for granted, challenge injustice and raise our own voices. If the decision next week is to keep the three members of Pussy Riot in jail and sentence them for several years, all the supporters will keep pushing. But as I said, whatever the outcome is, the case has a wider impact (for us in a positive way) on us and our work.

DD: What kind of work can we expect in the zine?
Emely Neu:
It will be a celebration of Pussy Riot. An exchange of views and personal insights into topics surrounding the group (freedom of speech, feminism, collaboration etc.). It will be called 'Let's Start A Pussy Riot' and like our blog, it will feature creative responses of all kinds; from articles to short stories, from poetry to lyrics, from drawings to photography. We hope that the responses and involvement will be colourful, varied, challenging and engaging to create something powerful; "a myriad of different voices drumming along the inner-city streets with creative cries". The money we raise with the sales of the zine, will be donated to Pussy Riot.

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