Punk, Political Performance, and Press Freedom

The Stage 5 hall was bursting at the seams in the late afternoon as Nadeshda Tolokonnikowa, Marja Aljochina and Peter Verzlov, core members of the Russian media- and political-activist group Pussy Riot, were interviewed by moderator Jo Schück about punk rock, political performance art, and press freedom. Not unexpectedly, they strongly criticised the lack of press freedom and freedom of speech in Russia under Putin, saying that “punk and serious journalism have one thing in common: You can’t have any fear.” The activists have founded a news portal, MediaZona, which they say isn’t (yet) blocked in Russia. “Russia isn’t like Iran or China, but it’s moving in that direction.” But – as a defiant conclusion – “If you’ve already gone to prison for dancing in a church, you can do anything.”