tv Book Discussion on Words Will Break Cement CSPAN April 20, 2014 3:00pm-4:16pm EDT
>> next on booktv, moscow-based journal nist marsha guessen profiles pussy riot whose criticisms of vladimir piewt been as a result resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of three of its members in 2012. this is about an hour and 15 minutes. [inaudible conversations] >> good evening. prison no applause -- [applause] no applause necessary. welcome to aloud at the central library which is produced by the library foundation of los angeles. i'm louise simon, the cultural programs director for the library foundation. i'm delighted to see you all here tonight to hear marsha and susie in conversation. if you're not already a member of the library foundation supporting the los angeles public library, please talk to one of our staff members afterwards, and we will tell you about the great work of the library foundation supporting the mission of the l.a. public library free access to ideas and
russian revolution, but her work covers that have time. she was born oscar and came to the united states when she was 14 and 10 years later she returned to russia where she became a prominent journalist covering the war in chechnya as well as becoming an outspoken advocate for lgbt rates. writing in russian and in others, she is covered every major development in russian politics and culture of the past two decades receiving numerous awards and fellowships in the process. she bought weekly for "the new york times" creatures with numerous publications and also edited several russian magazine. recently she's relocated back to the united states. she's the author of any books. among the bestseller, perfect ricker, a genius and mathematical breakthrough. she knows her mass. a biography of a brilliant young eccentric russian mathematician who saw the famous conjecture in 2006. there is her memoir aster was
yet. our grandmother survived hitler's war and stalin speeds. it was in a mark a reflective novel in offers a brilliant vision of russian history from stalinism through the fall of communism. in men without her face, the unlikely rise of vladimir putin, the paper sees her new book on pussy riot, she describes how putin became putin. the story behind the man without a shirt riding a horse and that in russia into. it reads like a thriller but it is certainly true. her newest book tonight with suzi weissman is "words will break cement: the paswsion of pussy riot." masha gessen is the perfect guy to lead us to the arrest, trial and imprisonment of the three riot members who were sentenced in russia to two years in the penal colony for the charge of hooliganism and who since the release has become human rights act to this on the world stage. they take them behind-the-scenes
to see the forces that transform a group and has heard of her and my grandmothers with burden of conscience. as maria alec enough, one of the three pussy rights activists resented the court during her final statement, while you can do is take away my so-called freedom, the only sort that exists in the russian federation. but no one can take away a minor freedom. suzi weissman is a professor of politics at st. mary's college in california. you know her from her weekly broadcast of broadcast of the need to service the suzi weissman on kbs k. los angeles purchaser's editorial board against the current and is the author of victor's surge and the editor of your stairs russia 20 years after any ideas. during the welcoming masha gessen and suzi weissman to the l.a. public library. [laughter]
>> thank you offer coming. nice to see a big crowd and i'm sure that if you have a lot of good questions to ask "after words." we are lucky to have her with us tonight and i wanted to just start with a little bit of the clips that we have. that is the second clip if you want to push that. new smart -- new smart --
♪ [inaudible conversations] >> it's hard to imagine what an impact this 42nd time. through a combat at peer thank you for coming here tonight. this book, which as we said is going to be available afterwards. "words will break cement" comes from a poem. >> i should consume a closing statement and she's quoting -- [inaudible] >> thank you. but the publication of the book was accelerated because just
before the sochi games, putin -- [inaudible] >> thank you. after they are to serve 650 days in jail. as punishment for essentially that 40 seconds of a performance that was truncated. we are going to talk a lot about what was behind that, with the influences were and everything else. maybe we should start with what caused the pussy riot to form. earlier we going to look at a clip or decided not to about showing president medvedev announced being that they were going to essentially swapped jobs and would then become president. for the third time. >> what happened after that been a welcome and there actually is no relationship to.
a lot of people in russia felt absolutely despondent when putin and medvedev came out during a congress of the ruling united russia party soviet congresses, they say we have decided that you all should support putin for president. there was applause of tens of thousands of hands and it was decided putin was president even though there had been no election. three months later it was a sham election, just like it had been for years. and the enough for action. right after the parliamentary election, the russia protest movement broke out for everyone else. but the right at that point had
existed a couple months. it was born as a fiction. it was bordering on the, who was a philosophy student at moscow university, 21 years old and had participated in another protest argument. she was asked to speak in a conference opposition activists. mostly because they were so few opposition access to one of the opposition activists notice somebody else who is kind and charismatic in participating in this event or happening, they would sort of some times try to draw them in. so innocuous as to give a presentation. she decided she would give a presentation on feminist art. and because she was very taken with it, she was reading about all the radical feminist art in the west. so she put together what could be a freshman course in feminist art. freshman course in feminist art are not taught in russia. she put it all together in an hour and a half long
presentation. but there is a problem with the presentation, which there was one, but one is not enough and she was commercial and she'd been working a long time. she needed to finish with the russian artworks. so she made when a. she made up a group called pussy riot. it is a russian word -- it's a childish word for. so this is like this incredible group. a very versatile protected virtual art that did mandarins of classic paintings with laundry and dirty dishes superimposed on them as feminist symbols and punk rock, which is a little difficult because neither helping with the presentation as a musician.
or knew much about music. so they took a song by the rebels, from the 80s and they wrote lyrics had a russian russian russian report, which was, which was like a caricature of feminist lyrics. so start with stinky socks and ended with the line and be your own -- and they recorded this on a dictaphone at a playground because they needed some place or they could jump around and scream. they didn't have enough space in a home to do this. so they went out to a children's playground in the evening when there were no children dare, to record it. there were no children, but they were young people drinking.
they cover the concern and one up to them and said something happened to? you need help? doing it to go beat him up? and they shoot them away and kept recording. so at this presentation, nights of finished with the words and amazingly, there is a punk rock -- a feminist punk rock group working right now and we are going to leave you with a song affairs. and then she pressed a button on a boombox and this absolute awfulness came out. it was like a thousand rusty nails in women's remains and they walked out of the room. i was there actually watching video tapes recently followed them out of the room and you could see all these faces. about 40 men in the room and all these men looks like they didn't know what hit them or what they were supposed to do. should a turnoff to me as or did to wait for the women to combat?
and i don't know it has been because the operator walked out of the room. >> was this beginning of adopting this form of shock art, music is a form of protest? you mentioned about 40 men in the room. so do you know how they reacted and what age group they represent a quick >> most of the nicer in their 30s and 40s. aside from not so shock i don't know how they reacted. some of the women who join them right away after they decided this was a really good idea they wanted to make this a reality, they had participated in earlier protest group. there is some significant differences between pussy riot and one was that pussy riot is an anonymous caller here. it's very personalized, very personified. that actually talked about
anonymity said principal has potential tool of art making. but they've never done it. they decided to do a pussy riot and obviously to be anonymous to have to somehow hide your faces. so that's where it came from. originally when they talked about it, they talked about black ski masks the russian s.w.a.t teams player. the really frightening so they decided they would come up with addresses and the type that be less coordinated. but the garish makeup could be when you could see them make a through the ice let's send them out. i actually thought it was very strange and i saw the remake of, but it is noticeable. among the principles of pussy riot was anybody can do pussy riot. you take it off and they're not
pussy riot. so is one of the participants told me, it's like spiderman. their finished product with either video clip. so it's not a performance. they don't actually performed for audiences. they decided they would do all of their performances as a series of performances in the video clip would be a compilation. it didn't always work out, but the first couple of performances were done that way. another thing that distinguished them was that their own religious symbolism and her groups. this presentation. >> you should say that it means war. yugo firms sort of -- i don't want to interrupt you, but from pussy riot. what connection is there? >> i wouldn't put too much
significance on the names. they said they were chosen because they sound good. so anyway, they decided to pussy video clips to be accompanied by very clerics locations. they put them in mind would write very accessible tax on what they meant to say and why they said it that way they said it. >> so to get back to many different back somewhat to explore and i hope we have time to do it. he started to talk about some of their influences. for example, some of the other artists. on other cultural and artistic influence, especially at night show who had an unusual childhood growing up mostly in siberia and decided to study art had a very interesting. maybe you can tell me what these three principal women are that you chose to write about most of the book and then we can go see how they relate to the movement.
>> yeah, the main characters in the book are three women who were unmasked and tried as pussy riot. i would say the mastermind, cocteau was very much by her side as the others are coming up with the idea. or you loose that has become absolutely central to the whole pussy riot case and double cause, she had taken part in some actions can which was central. >> she was more an environmentalist. she mean that she was environmental activists. i was fascinated with how something like that comes to be. there's nothing in russia that would suggest a pussy riot critic face. there's no radical feminist artist working on russia. there is a soup from which something like this could appear
piercers trying to figure out where she came from and i didn't figure out that much. she shouldn't exist, but she does. but we had a long correspondence when she's in prison with her potential influences and self education program. she was born in siberia. she grew up most of you in the risk. the furthest north city with a population of over 100,000. and if that doesn't sort of conjuring an image, just imagine black. imagine a city that is dark most of the year because of the polar night and when it's puller day, you see how hideous it is because it is -- it's heavy metals industry. it's a very mineral rich soil.
because of the soil and because of the industry. there's all these metal particles in the air so the air is black and the soil is black nurse just the city of darkness and her father who loved the family early on and self identify as an artist, which i think means he didn't do much of anything, he told me that when she came to moscow or to the south of russia in the summers when she came to moscow she thought it to an html and moscow. if you start a vicious moscow is not the most nature rich city in the world, but there is a little bit of water and a few ducks. so naughty aside dawkins said is at rio? he was really struck by this
because he said to have coming out, she didn't say that it's a duck. her first assumption was a thing like that couldn't be real. she wasn't used to seeing life nature. so her impression was is a real? was struck me about the conversation is he did notice something like that and registering his mind and in that sense, he was incredibly constructive and project its influence on her. he was the person who contradicted her mother in every way and probably would've made her life, the mother and mean. but for the little girl he open up the world to her. you attacked her about arts and literature and give her things to read and show her stuff and explained to her this was the style and that was that architectural style and she's still very, very grateful to him for doing all of that and showing her the world is complicated and there is a lot
of art in it. she was very disappointed with everything that surrounded her. at the age of 14 she wrote an article for the local newspaper, the truth beyond the public circle in which she criticized the school and education system in her peers who are not interested in any event marketing good education committed and want the good education and finished it with a counterintuitively by saying things will get better. i have to say finding that article was very reassuring for me because at least i know she didn't come out of the womb starting very to watch a kind to suspect that one point. but now, she was not terribly well-educated or good writer as a teenager, but she was very motivated to get some better.
so she created a curriculum for herself. she created her though this early 20th century russian philosophers and is methodically working her way through them. and then something happened for her, which was in the midnight to nine days, couple of russian oligarchs bought the metals companies and one of them, for some of you may have heard a decided he was going to transform the risk and he created a foundation, and our foundation. he put his older sister, whom he adores, put her in charge of it. he soldiers to bring culture to the middle east. so every summer, she would get a whole bunch of moscow writers and artists in her talk refers together assured air lift them for the brief art if they and they would lecture intel master classes in neither one to see
the moscow conceptualist poet and visual arts and performance artist was amazing. that taught her that something else could access in the world. moscow conceptualism, which was a movement that took soviet language and soviet the inmate art out of them instead of resisting them and molded them. she saw that was possible. it's very taken started to moscow conceptualist as well. that's my biography. she then got into the philosophy department at moscow university, which disappointed her terribly, but then she got into conceptual activism. >> pretrip fate of their important role for china and a pussy riot. maybe you can talk about the weight they held. >> yeah, i love that story.
night it came to moscow started studying at the philosophy department and within six months realized he was not what she wanted. it was boring and cookie-cutter and the aesthetics chair of the philosophy department thought andy warhol was edgy and risky and no one else in the department had ever heard of andy warhol. so at that point, she met an older man of 20 who was amazing. he had lived in canada. it got to high school in canada, spent a year in japan. he is seen judith butler speak good >> either way, this is the most amazing thing when you read it effort not be a comment this man, who she was to marry later, that he'd actually seen toronto universe d.
>> there's a funny footnote to that as well. if we have time i'll get to it. so she was also very taken with nice to have basically because there's this beautiful creature. i'm sure you've all seen pictures. she is amazing looking fit and then she opens her mouth starts talking about the moscow conceptualist. she has maybe met six people who've heard of the moscow conceptualist. and so, they start talking and tell her that he a cup of his friends want to start a protest our group. they didn't have much of an idea of what it would be except it would make protest art. but what protester would be, they hadn't figured out. so neither suggested they catch a preview of in these two young couples grow and of course he falls in love. so they decided to do it together. the action is going to be
putting them inside a fireproof safe and caring i'm up 27 floors to 27 floor of the main building of the moscow university. it's the highest by a moscow. it's also supposed to be the pinnacle of an enlightenment because it's the top floor of moscow university building. it is also the place where the headquarters of the labor camp, the inmates of which built moscow university during the construction project. it's completely -- dispersing the symbolism. so it sat and stuck inside a fireproof space in the philosophy students were carrying up the stairs and i don't know how they're planning to do that. i think they have no idea how much a fireproof safe ways. and she was going to recite a
poem from inside the safe and this is going to start a dialogue with the students. so the action was going to be debating and been a dialogue as they carried him up the stairs. so the plan of this action and they were supposed to mean that at moscow bookstore café. they hadn't been able to procure a safe. they decided to use a wooden armoire. and he was two hours late. so finally he called and said, it's a funny thing, but he seemed to have had a heart attack on the way to meet you and i'm in the hospital. i'm in icu. they go to cnn at all very funny. in a week later he is dead.
and there was supposed to start the dialogue could never happen. so the first action is actually my favorite. it's the weight. they went to the moscow metro and if you can visualize a subway car with seat could only go along the sides of the car, facing each other. they found this picnic tables -- floating tables that fit perfectly between the seats. so they wanted to have a subway car and threw down this picnic tables and they put traditional weight there are none and they sat down and had away. they did this on the mainline of the moscow metro, which goes around in a circle. they actually went around one and a half revolutions before they were removed. take it away when there's almost nobody dare. it's a credit bold because through imagine a so bizarre and
sanctioned anywhere in a public space in moscow is absolutely impossible. >> can i read a bit of this poem? it's amazing that struck me a lot and i'll tell you why. because my ambition -- >> no, that's not the poem he wrote. it's a great poem. i love this poem. but this is the palm he wrote as a young man and that they resided at his wake. not in the face. the other poem was a little bit earlier. please do. i love that poem. >> if it's my ambition is serving as compost for the future more rational sort. still youthful of purpose grow with fertilized her. steve incorrectly proudly disdain chain of foreigners taken a realize it's all madness around him that declares i love
you, come what may. you know, this tenet echoed a theme for many people who had perished because they criticize. i know that's oppositionists and others in the 30s who also wrote his serve. all service minoru to fertilize the years and which the human heart will rise to bring forth good >> that's a good reference to that, yeah. >> it's a good reference and that sort of brings into this new generation that came about it finally existed and that could protest. so it's not the palm quick >> is an early poem, but they chose it for the week and that is what made the action so pointed for me is the son of videotape, then sitting there and they really are absolutely heartbroken and they are reciting this poem. you know they think the poem was written for them. but they're having a conversation that they can no longer have.
>> so how does it go from there, from the first action and then you get coming in now, it started at a time before as you say before putin announced he was going to come back or admit that it can putin announced. they decided then to become pussy riot. the question is what kind of politics they thought they would represent and how they solve society around them. many of the quotes talk about mediocrity and conformity in people with their lives as atomic funds. how developed producing their critique was? >> considering big state for over four months before they were arrested, it was largely buried from western theory. i was actually struck in august of 20 to during the trial of
pussy riot. i came to hear her vacation and and a half into theater reading of contemporary artists on the day they were sentence and it was amazing because a lot of these artists i hadn't seen in 20 years and i know they had out of russia in 20 years forever and all the sudden pussy riot had drawn the attention of so many people to rush of who hadn't been paying attention. there are many significant accomplishments. i think it was karen finley who is reading the closing statement in court. i thought wow, this sounds better in english than a dozen russian. because in russian towns tickets translated from english and in english it sounds native because there's those steep and western
protest rhetoric and it is also strange to russia. they were so eager because there was the truth and nobody in russia was an attention to what was going on. more specifically, to answer your question, they are now split up because center for law for a couple years before. so they were all stumbling about trying to figure out what they're going to do next. and then it all started congealed and there's going to be a feminist group, which meant a lot. to most of the other young women who participated, there's a pretty vague idea. but it was a girl group and they were independent and they were fighting and not the foundation
of feminism in the group. mpeg putin group was very clear. what made very unusual for the russian opposition was there as leftists. they didn't talk about being leftists, but their targets only did actions and had been a a couple cents. the second target of the putin era and they did their second clip, the russian anarchist priest and vodka is vodka and signifies consumerism. they would get to the religious water later. they recorded that in the series
of guerrilla performances at a pedestrian mall for all these blunter boutiques are and they accidentally set a fashion show on fire in the process. so they never expected today to have the kind of notoriety and certainly would have been to them. but can you talk about what happened as the moscow protestant target to show up and then on the night putin was good or in that sort of off they do their performance >> a few at a week later actually, isn't that? >> hooton claimed reelection in march. putin announced he was going to become president in september in the week later invented the pussy riot.
he didn't do it for another month after that. but then what would happen on december 4th, 2011, there is the parliamentary election, which was like reelection before for years. there was all worth protesters are always scheduled and god permit and two, 300 people would show up in its very depressing. particularly because the way the protests worked in russia is pretty strange to anybody that comes from a democratic country. you have to get a permit for a particular place in a particular number of people. then the people protesting are inside the fenced spaces. they're only talking to one another. even if it's in march, he can't have any onlookers. so the sidewalks are empty and
there are bears on the street in a march in the street view to the place where you have other riley. so you have to pass through a metal detector. and you get there and there's two, 300 people using and selling times before he seen around for a while and maybe somebody can inspiring talking eumenes. not yet had to pretty much always went. i have to say i must always finds because i felt like i had to. on the day after the election i was going in one of my friends picked me up at my home near my house and it was dark and raining and it was early december and my gal. i said i really don't want to go. they said we have to because he's going to go i have to click there if 10,000 people and their
six metal detectors. of course people could go through the metal detectors. so the police didn't do anything. and something was happening. and you write this. in the press here, a middle-class protests that finally people felt they should have found a is going to the country and that it should be told to them. but i was reading some of your journal is a menu mention that this was a huge cross-section of all ages. some who could afford to buy a car, but many who are just barely making it. it wasn't necessarily middle-class. would you say this was sorted to weakening we've seen in the square around the world? or is this something peculiarly russian?
>> i'm glad you asked that because that example an example of because this is the label that really put on the protests. they called them the irritated city dwellers and they said they're just a middle-class. all of them, the middle-class protests to justice citydwellers 80% of russians live in cities. >> people often don't know that. >> that there were at the height of the protest movement, there were simultaneous protest in 99 different large cities is not townsite coming out. in fact, there is a pretty good study done at the moscow protest on december 21st, 2011.
there is russia's usual in the future the conclusion people of all income levels for two thirds higher education that the population is saying two thirds higher education. a fair variety of political views and actually interestingly only half the people learned about the protests and the internet and the other half learned from printers papers, so very, very different people. is it fair to compare to other movement? is certainly fair to talk about the arab spring. they were feeling incredible and that people could come out and change. so i'm not since coming yes. there's a relationship. we didn't know a lot about the arabs train. other than the fact that happened.
and toppled a dictator. but it seems like that's all part. key people came out in the square and he was toppled. and actually there are thought a thing that aren't in play and not want to play in russia. one thing that probably has been under examined is the tacit agreement between the protesters and government about how the process worked. that business are protesting inside, while the protesting a very small minority within that movement but objected to it and pussy riot belonged to it. part of what they were doing a church and the month before that in this square was pushing the limits and challenging not pass. >> so we should go back to the click because this leads right into a couple months later to
their actual performance here and then i want to talk about how this 42nd performance concerns has such repression. can we have the second clip? [applause] >> sorry, this is the -- this is the wrong clip. it is the first clip. we'll just stop. okay, so many of you will have seen on the internet a very famous, very short performance wherein they are neon colored dresses and tight going to get the trolls they fear and hate to what is seen as kind of last-minute prayer. here we go.
kind of protest movement we are talking about in the squares. but here it led to a show trial. maybe we can start with what it was that they were doing, why they chose that cathedral. >> services february 21, 2012. in two weeks. multiplayer reelection to his third unconstitutional term in office and he's very nervous. so he drops the russian orthodox church to campaign for him. this is repression to gators have always done. in terms of christ is a reach for the russian orthodox church. this is something most people in the country don't realize. it was always some have come even in the soviet period. so the church starts campaigning for him and the patriarch of the russian orthodox church is comparing putin to god. the parish priests are direct
and believers not to attend the protest because orthodox believers do not attempt to purchase. and pussy riot decide to go into most official, work of our members on church holidays businesses where there are was filmed. it's where they are on church holidays, but not other times. it is really relation and powercom together. if also where the cathedral has the for events. it has a carwash in the cathedral and it is home to the foundation were a lot of money goes in and no money comes out. so it is all that.
it is the perfect symbol today. the song they wrote was called the prayer. yes she refrains. one is mother of god and the other one is what you hear them sing in that little bit. that is also the reason why much of the television watching public in russia firmly believes they went to church and desiccated. >> you also say the press is terrible and lied. >> let's separate that from other press. there is the state media. at the time we still have a little bit of independent media. independent media were terrific. when they get to state tv that
is their main source of information. >> the majority of russians really believe they went into the church and desiccated. they didn't think they would get arrested. this is hard to believe now. two years ago people were going to jail. we now understand that such a regular occurrence in russia candidates. two years ago that wasn't happening. people are getting 10, 15 days administrative arrest, which is a strong slap in the race. if they were convicted of violating public assembly laws. putin is going to begin a crackdown and this is the perfect place to start because it shines a light on exactly what russia is in exactly what's wrong with it. and that is why the criminal
case was launched to get them a couple days after the protest. during the protest they were removed from the cathedral and that was it. indeed, it was so insignificant that they were removed in their equipment was taken by police. so they got together that evening and they really wanted to get their equipment back. so they came up with this cockamamie story. a male friend which the police intended to purchase some woman on the subway to borrow music equipment. he produced a forged document showing the music equipment. and then they got into the cathedral and it's his equipment into the habit back and he got it back. >> but then they are arrested and put on trial with
hooliganism and a foot in believers, which is a strange charge for a secular -- >> palace with the testimony was about. the chargers felony hooligans. on a hooligans as defined in the law as a crew disturbance of the social order motivated by his shed for particular social. they're basically convicted of a hate crime in the social group they supposedly hated for nonbelievers. but the testimony in the trial centered on the moral damage of the inflict it. there is a whole lineup of so-called victims that testified they been traumatized by either witnessing the performance or watch it on youtube over and over again.
and this had rendered them unable to work. the most difficult part of putting the book together was trying to get the trial into what 60 pages are in the book. there is no writing involved. delicious work and working with audio and videotapes and trying to figure out how atomic encyclopedia out of it because within the book is really a day plus a little bit. but that was nine days of nightmare for them. i give a couple examples of the kind of testimony that happened in the trials. a witness that was the platform in front of the altar and the judge says floated across themselves like regular orthodox believers? no, they did a kind of fast.
and another witness says then they started devilishly. defense attorneys were out of their depth. he says i would like to know how the witness knows. has she seen the devil? my favorite kind of hard to choose a favorite, but my favorite is the witnesses they appear as fast. the judge says i have checked. the witness does not have a medical degree and is not qualified to render a diagnosis of possession. [laughter] this is 2012 in europe. it is hilarious. it's also really scary because this was done in absolute
circumstance. there are these three women -- it was a prank. a brilliant prank, but it was a prank. they've been in jail for six months. they ran a cage in the footage in a plastic box because they are very dangerous criminals and they hear and are painful for them to be accused of hatred. they are not hateful people and just hearing that kind of lie over and over again and the only voice of sanity in the entire childbirth or three closing statements, which are all remarkable and in the book in their entirety. >> we are going to play that in a just a second. we don't have time in this discussion to go into way this was more of a show trial and the
sentences they god and us on the question. we can bring some of it up was the experiences of maria and not via in the penal colony where you were able to go with the husband and the setnor perm, with senate? in any case, the final statements and i think the whole trial proceeding as you read it, when you read the book will seem very strange to a westerner. it's not the way you see the role of the judge for the defense lawyers for the prosecution or in fact as the women said this is the only place you can have a political conversation. later on they say that. >> so maybe we should go and you can look at the final clip, the one you started before and then go back and talk about that.
[applause] >> that's really quite beautiful. of course after that they are sent to later to very harsh time in a penal colony. we only have 20 minutes for questions. should we open it up and see if we can come back? of course i want to let you know one of the excellent things is very beautifully written in the book and this is only a very short part of it in the clarity you see from their experience of those nine days to say and later
on and as you also say use it as a form in a way that becomes part of their performance. let me give an indication of how many questions we are going to have. >> this are interested in the religion in russian life. from what i understood in the soviet union was not a very active church. some of this is church centered and you mentioned the use of russian orthodox church that they chose the church. could you talk more about the place of russian culture? >> that's exactly the right way to phrase the question. it's the place of the church in russian culture because it's not the role of belief in god, but is traditionally the russian orthodox church has served at the pleasure of bizarre and
later the other dictators who came. in the soviet period, divided the churches were destroyed. a lot of monasteries were destroyed or repurpose and most clergy weren't allowed. the ones who were worked for the kgb. in times of crisis, the government always relied on the church in for example during world war ii and saw not this defense effort, he very much describes the church into the mobilization effort in for a while there were even chaplains in the red army. basically the same thing has happened over the last few years in russia. it's very interesting there was -- i'm not a big fan of opinion polls, but sometimes they're just very problematic.
sometimes they show things and there's a very interesting poll that shows the vast majority of russians identifies russian orthodox, but do not believe in god. so it's the seed of a dent tea for a lot of people and it is something abstract enough to appeal to, for any political purpose. so it's been years now very much in the campaign and the sort of the new russian national ideas that russia will be the traditional values capital of the world and this is the torch the russian orthodox church carries. very little to do with actual religion.
>> i read more than once that they show very high approving peer 70% have a 75% area. what is your sense that the russian people's feelings about the incursion into the ukraine or at least into the area if that not getting too far. >> that's not true for our field at all. again, the opinion polling is fraud. there several very good books out on the problem of measuring opinion before it is even formed. ..
that answers both to your questions then. >> i know you are back living in new york but i know you were active with the organization trying go. have they been effectively allied war i would imagine there is still the underground group? >> it existed in the '90s. it has been a while but triangle was the expression of the belief that we have not just gay people that we called ourselves at the time but also the feminist in people who thought we could just look at the collapse then have the normal movements leica normal country. they did not just happen because you cannot have the
lgbt or a movement until you have community and identity. so that died down in the '90s and something else began to happen a few years ago. community building in the organization showed up. several of them are an existence in st. petersburg and moscow. they are very much under attack. the problem they have faced this community building organizations are probably the worst position to fight to a political battle. they are very community oriented. weber not consumers and tell this started to happen and they are thrust into politics they have got a lot more support from lgbt in russia and the small liberal
militants than they ever have before. that is the silver lining of the whole campaign. but most of the attention the network is getting most of the calls are from people asking how to get out of the country. >> how concerned are you about the future to be rearrested now they don't try to appeal now with the caribbean situation anyway? >> they are definitely a target. phase of risk being arrested and physical harm i am more concerned about physical harm they have been attacked weekly i am sure you have seen the video of them being
horse whipped and more recently they were attacked by a nationalist activists apparently affiliated with the secret police. they sprayed them with a green disinfectant and threw up a jar of every is head and she had to get stitches and the other's eyes were sprayed with acid. it is scary. they are coming to a physical harm on a regular basis. >> this is a follow-up of what is the legacy and the impact of russia right now and will other people step
forward? are people fearful? what will happen? >> russia is in the midst of an extreme political crackdown. it began two years ago that was a significant event also a series of laws passed changing the rule of public assembly changing fellow was that basically allowed the '30's to paralyze their work the cost of civic work but what is happening in the last couple weeks is the final attack on independent media.
the other channel will probably shut down in a brief court to they have already dropped the cable providers. the big independent news agency was handed over to the state today. actually it is privately-owned the editor found out she was fired this morning and the kremlin had and was appointed in her plays. just before i went on stage i found out if you log on a couple of hours ago all the news items were linked to the state news agency items so it was literally handed over to is the kremlin the largest privately-owned news resources in the country.
>> given the context of historical russia that had authoritarian rule, a russian friend said to me that we have never had democracy or freedom or we don't know how to do this yet it is tragic to see the dictatorial authority is returning that talk in the context of russian history how is it worse now and weird use the help for russians finding their voice ? you left. >> it is worse than last year. [laughter] last year i could still live
there. it is of a downhill slide over 14 years that is a long time to shut down democracy. it is a slow process that first and has speeded up in the last two weeks. what has happened with the invasion of ukraine has been the all-out effort to isolate russia from the rest of the world and shut down the last vestiges of public space and free speech in the country. i have always spend a little suspicious that russia has never had democracy. at the same time i m thinking there may be something specific and
tragic that a russian society has for so long in dade to recover the same way people have to recover and that requires help and intervention and a treatment that russians did not get in the '90s and it should not be a surprise moshe goes back to the abuser. that is what they usually do. >> it is a two-part question your book did you also ride in another language? is available in russia? [laughter] >> no. >> i thought there were four equal building this on a moscow but you said the floor was the highest?
>> with similar high-rises houses moscow university is on the highest hill that is the highest elevation in the city. >> i want to thank you for your work. [applause] >> i was struck by a the passages in the penal colony. how often in the you get a firsthand report? >> i did a fair amount of reporting with the penal colonies when russia repealed the sodomy law a
and iran a project to get people out of prison. i had some familiarity but as i did other work with access to penal colonies that were more restricted i had not been there in years and i was absolutely shocked. with they described as so eloquently and the people who serve time in the same colony describes in part because it is so humiliating people don't want to talk about it. it is humiliating to women because so many what they say is centered around personal hygiene. nobody wants to talk about that but that is a main issue of control to turn the inmates from the inmate the
also the economic system of purchase think they have been very open about. it is very much a part of the larger correction system of the state that requires more and more output in neither experience the work just keeps getting longer first 13 then even longer. then sleeping two hours a night with no days off. >> one last question. >> we had a representative here i was wondering if they
were influenced or fall in line with the practice? secondarily how do they make a living? before they got arrested how do they do that? >> i don't actually know. i assume they heard right it girl groups the obviously referenced the them that and certainly they listen to do various kinds of folk music and lifted some of it to. some of them are college students who were working working, living at home like maria was living at home going to college. some had jobs there was the
musician very much involved. some of the most the shoplifted. there are all sorts of different people. >> unfortunately we have run at a time but figgie for your questions that you touched on the areas hopefully we have time to explore. she will be signing outside a and also i would like to ask you to support this program that brings this type of writers to los angeles to nations of course, you can figure out a way to handle that. look forward to her new work right thing on the boston massacre. when do you expect? >>. [laughter] >> thank you so much