MOSCOW, March 7 (RIA Novosti)
Pussy Riot’s Tolokonnikova Applies for Parole
Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who is serving a two-year prison sentence for a “punk prayer” in a church, has applied for parole on the grounds that she is the mother of a young child. If granted, several galleries, media outlets and drama schools are ready to offer her employment.
Tolokonnikova’s lawyer, Irina Khrunova, believes her client has a good chance of being released soon. Her application for parole states that she has a record of good behavior at home and in prison; she has not been involved in any conflicts with prison officials or other inmates.
“She has a young child, she is not anti-social, and she will be employed,” adds Khrunova.
Tolokonnikova’s job offers include one from art gallery owner Marat Gelman, several from drama schools and one as a columnist at Novaya Gazeta.
Tolokonnikova was taken to a women’s prison in Mordovia last October two months after her conviction. The law allows convicts to apply for early release after half the sentence has been served. Tolokonnikova’s term includes her detention before and during the trial, so she is now eligible to apply for parole.
However, some institutional violations could hinder her chances for parole. Last week, prison guards reported that Tolokonnikova failed to get permission to visit a doctor.
“We can prove that the chief doctor gave her permission because Nadezhda complained about regular headaches and needed treatment,” says the lawyer. “However, when she arrived for an appointment the prison guards said she wasn’t allowed in the medical ward.”
The lawyer described unusual behavior on the part of the prison staff since the news of the parole application was announced.
“Nadezhda was in good standing with prison officials until her parole request became known.”
Tolokonnikova’s husband, Pyotr Verzilov, believes the application won’t be considered before April at the earliest.
“Technically Nadezhda could be released now, but apparently we won’t succeed with the application without more public support. Starting on March 8, some well-known public figures will be demonstrating at the Federal Penitentiary Service building in Moscow.”
Khrunova said the other Pussy Riot member, Maria Alyokhina, plans to apply for parole next week. Alyokhina is less likely to be released since she has only been able to appeal two out of her four rules violations in prison.
International human rights organizations have already expressed their support for Tolokonnikova’s parole application.
“Every day these women are in prison is an injustice,” said Rachel Denber, deputy, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
Bolshoi Ballet Dancer Confesses to Acid Attack on Artistic Director
Pavel Dmitrichenko, a lead dancer at the world's most famous dance company, has confessed to having paid 50,000 rubles ($1670) to have sulfuric acid thrown into Sergei Filin’s face, an attack that nearly blinded him.
Revenge is the possible motive for the attack on the dancer’s artistic director, as the director allegedly held back the career of his girlfriend, dancer Anzhelina Vorontsova, investigators said on Thursday. Dmitrichenko also said he suspected Filin of extortion.
“Dmitrichenko has confessed to organizing the attack,” a source close to the case told Izvestia. “He cited job-related personal issues with Filin, or in other words bitterness toward Filin for not giving his girlfriend more lead roles.”
Dmitrichenko also said he had not intended to harm his director so seriously. He said he hired two hit men to simply frighten Filin and beat him, but the acid attack was a shock to him as well.
He found the two co-conspirators outside Moscow to make the investigation more difficult. Dmitrichenko knew Yury Zarutsky, 35, previously convicted of a similar crime, because he owns a dacha in Stupino, some 100 km south of Moscow, where Zarutsky lives. The hit man found the other man, Andrei Lipatov, 31, who now claims he was only used as a driver and didn’t even see what happened.
“I just took Yury there, waited for him and gave him a lift back,” he told the police. “They asked me to do that without telling me why.”
Dmitrichenko had other reasons to be angry with Filin. He suspected the artistic director, as well as other Bolshoi executives, of taking kickbacks from dancers for awarding lead roles and for permission to participate in other companies’ projects. His friends told Izvestia that Dmitrichenko was also behind several hacker attacks against the email accounts of certain Bolshoi executives last year. Their accounts were hacked to collect evidence of corrupt activity, they said.
“Bolshoi dancers receive meager salaries,” Dmitrichenko told Izvestia shortly before the attack. “They are always keen to earn extra. In fact for many of them, dancing in other companies’ projects is the only chance to make real money. A Bolshoi dancer’s name on the poster guarantees a full house. But to accept a proposal, the dancer has to get permission from Bolshoi executives, often for a kickback as far as I know.”
Dmitrichenko is believed to be exceptionally good with computers, which is why he is widely suspected of the email attacks. He allegedly hacked the corporate password of Deputy General Director Anton Getman.
Censorship Reigns on Stage
Still alive: censors, moral guardians, informers and snitches are again appearing on stage. Something dark and lurking is emerging in the limelight with only one purpose, to ban any undesirable utterance. These sentinels of morality want to ban plays and theater productions, manuscripts, paintings and songs. But the main target is freedom of thought. Again, as the authorities sink into depravity, corruption and lies, thinking becomes a threat they take personally.
Why this renewed energy to censor? There have always been those who will go out of their way to protect the state’s interests and security. “Yes Stalin was a murderer, so why were there 40 million tip-offs?” the author Dovlatov wondered.
But Russia’s experience, paid for with the lives of millions, should teach us that there are no undefeatable tsars or commissars. There is only our willingness to give in, to flee, to accept the lack of justice and to bow down to the officials.
Let us take a stand. This is our country. We are people of a new age, heirs of a grand Russian tradition – why should we accept the patrons of autocracy, militant religionists or zealous nationalists?
History repeats itself like a satire, and it should be treated as the farce is. It is not fear, but laughter that will cleanse the air, and the theater too.
In St. Petersburg, “BerlusPutin,” a play by Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo, was banned from Teatr.doc, and from three other clubs.
In Moscow, the police launched a probe into “Freaks” by Zakhar Prilepin, adapted for the stage by Kirill Serebrennikov. They demanded a video of the production to check for any signs of extremism.
In Rostov, religious believers demanded that “Jesus Christ Superstar” be banned, even though it has been running all over the world since 1971. They had their way: an official resolution says “the production must be agreed to by the Patriarchate. In its current form it is a profanation.”
In Moscow, members of the Orthodox community tried to prohibit a production of Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera “The Golden Cockerel,” staged by Kirill Serebrennikov, a year after its premiere. The verdict was: blasphemy: “We cannot tolerate the mockery of the Russian Orthodox Church and other sacred things.” Nevertheless, the production is still running.
Moscow’s Department of Culture has recommended against anyone under 14 watching the opera “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theater. The scandal around the production with charges of pedophilia was provoked by a certain S. Khasanova, who was supposedly speaking on behalf of the parents of the kids in the children’s choir. Other parents described the complaint as extremist nonsense and denied any part in the letter.
In St. Petersburg, authorities closed a production of Nabokov’s “Lolita” following a letter of complaint from St. Petersburg Cossacks who claimed the production was promoting a novel that revolved around sin.
Unfortunately, 43 more instances of this sort can be cited in Russia.
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