Interview with Pussy Riot Leader: 'I Love Russia, But I Hate Putin'

Part 2: 'I'm Glad Our Fight Will Continue'

Photo Gallery: 'We Want a Revolution in Russia' Photos
DPA

SPIEGEL: In court, you compared yourself with Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Has the fame gone to your head? Solzhenitsyn spent eight years in a gulag. And Dostoyevsky was sentenced to death, then pardoned at the last minute at the place of execution and exiled instead.

Tolokonnikova: We don't want to compare ourselves to the work of Solzhenitsyn or Dostoyevsky. But we're concerned with precisely this attitude on the part of the government toward voices of dissent.

SPIEGEL: More than a few fellow opponents of Putin think you went too far with your performance in the cathedral. Alexey Navalny, probably Russia's most popular opposition politician at the moment, told SPIEGEL he considered the performance at the cathedral "stupid". Have you divided the opposition?

Tolokonnikova: Navalny praised our performance at Red Square, where we called Putin a coward. Clearly Navalny doesn't entirely understand the connection between the performance in front of the Kremlin and the one in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Our goal is in fact a divide, but not of the opposition. We want to rouse the part of society that has remained politically apathetic and has preferred not to work actively for civil rights, but rather to stay comfortably at home. What we see right now is a divide between the government and a silent majority of Russians.

SPIEGEL: Many Russians have called for a tougher punishment than the two years to which you were sentenced.

Tolokonnikova: There is a clear correlation between the trial against us and Putin's approval ratings. The most recent polls show his popularity dropping.

SPIEGEL: Is there anything that has particularly pleased or upset you in the months since your arrest?

Tolokonnikova: The overwhelming reaction to what we did was a pleasant surprise. The government's reaction to our performance was to be expected, since after all we're dealing with an authoritarian system. But I've been pleased with the support from friends and other like-minded supporters, despite the threat of years in prison that we're facing. I'm glad that our fight for our ideas and values will continue.

SPIEGEL: You've submitted an appeal. Do you expect a reduction to your sentence?

Tolokonnikova: I don't care about that.

SPIEGEL: You're not afraid of life in the prison colony?

Tolokonnikova: It's not me but the authorities who must be afraid.

SPIEGEL: What will you do when you're released from prison? Will you go on a global tour, release albums, turn your fame into money? Or will you go into politics?

Tolokonnikova: As long as this authoritarian system exists, there's little point in thinking about such things.

SPIEGEL: Nadezhda Andreyevna, we thank you for this interview.

The questions to Tolokonnikova were posed by Matthias Schepp. Translated from the German by Ella Ornstein.

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