Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova pens powerful op-ed on state of democracy in Russia

"You learn to live with it, to fight it as you can, deal with it how you can, but it becomes your life.”

Nadya Tolokonnikova, the founding member of band and political activists Pussy Riot, has decried the state of Russian democracy in a powerful new op-ed.

Writing inThe New York Times, Tolokonnikova shared her thoughts in an article titled: ““I’m an Activist in Russia. I Can’t Believe What My Life Has Become.”

In the piece, Tolokonnikova discusses the suspected poisoning of Russian opposition leader and close friend Aleksei Navalny, who is currently in an induced coma in Berlin.

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Comparing it to the case of her ex-husband Pyotr Verzilov, who was poisoned in 2018, she wrote: “It was horrible to sit by his bed there in Berlin, as Aleksei’s wife, Yulia, is doing now.

“And think I may never fully get back this person I call Petya, this person I love, this vital, funny, kind person.”

She also discusses how the group were imprisoned for two years in 2012 after performing in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

Pussy Riot
Pussy Riot (Picture: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

“I myself was sent to prison for two years just for singing a song,” she wrote.

“This is the reality I live with day to day, that we in Russia and my friends in Belarus are living with day to day. You learn to live with it, to fight it as you can, deal with it how you can, but it becomes your life.”

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Earlier this month, Pussy Riot claimed that one of their members was being held in a jail in Minsk, Belarus after they previously reported him missing.

The group say that Kiryl Masheka, who they describe as their “comrade, friend [and] member of Pussy Riot”, was detained during the protests in Minsk that have been sparked by the disputed outcome of the presidential vote earlier this month.

Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, was declared the winner by election officials.

Both the UN and the US have rejected the vote as being neither free nor fair, while Belarus’ main opposition figure, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has also claimed victory.

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