Support for Pussy Riot in Sofia

Written by on August 17, 2012 in Bulgaria, News, World - No comments

Supporters for jailed Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot covered the heads of sculptures at the base of the monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia with bright balaclavas, the same kind made famous by the band, on the morning of August 17.

A verdict in the lawsuit against three members of Pussy Riot – Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich – is expected later in the day and the act in Sofia is part of a wider series of protests in support of Pussy Riot scheduled in different countries.

The unknown perpetrators have issued a statement to the Russian embassy in Sofia, Parliament, Government and the local media, saying that the lawsuit against the members of Pussy Riot was an attempt to muffle free speech in Russia.

“We insist that Maria, Nadezhda and Katerina are freed immediately. Freedom of speech is a basic human right defended by Russian and international law. The totalitarian regime of Vladimir Putin must acknowledge this and stop terrorising its own citizens,” the statement said.

“With this act of protest we seek to show Bulgaria’s solidarity with the courageous members of the band. We are all Pussy Riot!” the statement said, whose authors signed as “a group of people.”

The trio are on trial for what the Russian authorities describe as hooliganism – performing earlier this year a punk prayer in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour cathedral asking for the Virgin Mary to chase out newly-elected president Vladimir Putin.

The three women have spent more than six months in jail and it is widely expected that the judge in the case will find them guilty. Prosecution has asked for a three-year sentence to be served in a penal colony, but the sentence can run as long as seven years of incarceration.

The monument to the Soviet Army, which rises above a large garden in central Sofia, a stone’s throw away from the Parliament building, has long been the focal point of protests – mainly by those who see Bulgaria’s communist period as Soviet-imposed regime change and those who oppose overly-close relations with Russia, which is often seen as longing to extend its influence over Bulgarian affairs to the same level as during communism.

Last year, the same sculptures were sprayed with graffiti overnight, turning the images of Russian soldiers into comic book and popular culture characters – Santa Claus, Ronald McDonald, the Joker, Wolverine and Superman, among others.

(Screengrab from Bulgarian National Television.)

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About the Author

Alex Bivol is the news editor of The Sofia Globe.