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Orthodox activists interrupt Pussy Riot play in Russia

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, August 28, 2012 6:56 EDT
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Pussy Riot via AFP
 
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Russian Orthodox Church activists burst into a theatrical show about the Pussy Riot feminist punk band late Monday, shouting “Repent!” and “Why do you hate Russians,” filmed by a national channel.

The dramatic twist came as a cutting-edge theatre put on a documentary show about the three jailed singers’ stunt performance against President Vladimir Putin in a church, with the women’s lawyers and supporters on stage.

“We want to know why you are supporting this protest. Why are you so negative to the Orthodox faith?” one heckler, who gave his name as Andrei Kaplin, demanded to boos and shouts from the audience.

The show was the latest from a Moscow theatre praised for its fearless criticism of the authorities, with previous shows mocking Putin and detailing the death in jail of the whistleblowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

The three women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina, have been sentenced to two years in prison for performing a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s main cathedral, in a trial called a farce by lawyers.

Audience members packed the black-painted Teatr.doc cellar theatre for the free show named after the trial venue, “Khamovnichesky Court. The Sequel.”

Director Varvara Faer and playwright Mikhail Ugarov prompted the husband of Tolokonnikova, activist Pyotr Verzilov, their three lawyers and journalists to share their personal feelings on the trial, adding video footage.

“For us it was simply important to make people change their stance, to make them feel compassion most of all,” Faer told AFP.

“The important thing is that (the women) should be freed. That’s more important than the show.”

There were laughs, shouts of indignation and applause as those on stage gave views on everything from the women’s love of poetry and philosophy to the state-appointed judge’s jaunty polka-dot dress.

The show carried on despite the disruption.

“We should not pay any attention to such people,” defence lawyer Violetta Volkova said to applause.

“We are public activists, Orthodox missionaries. We came to talk to people who think it’s normal to desecrate our churches,” one man, Dmitry Enteo, told AFP after the show.

“The filming is done by NTV, our friends,” he added, referring to a state channel that has recently released a series of documentaries taking a negative slant on Kremlin opponents.

The channel could not immediately be reached for comment.

“I think this form of witness theatre at Teatr.doc is very effective. It’s maybe the best way to talk about the trial,” activist Verzilov told AFP.

He dismissed the Orthodox protesters, saying that “these things are very common.”

“You just have to learn to react to them adequately and peacefully.”

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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