Johnny Depp and Oleg Sentsov

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“Oleg Sentsov is a Ukrainian filmmaker. When Crimea was annexed by Russia, he became a prime target to make an example of it in order to stifle dissent. He’s been tortured and sentenced to 20 years in prison, but Oleg is not backing down.” Image and text courtesy of Represent and The Voice Project.

Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s are just around the corner. This year, think about giving your friends and loved ones t-shirts, produced by The Voice Project, featuring the mug shots of Johnny Depp, Nadya Tolokonnikova, Peter Gabriel, Tom Morello, Ana Tijoux, and Alex Ebert.

This is their way of bringing attention to the plights of political prisoners around the world, including Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, now serving a twenty-year sentence in Siberia on trumped-up charges of “terrorism.”

I’ll definitely be buying the Johnny Depp t-shirt. Not only has Mr. Depp been one of my favorite actors ever since the days of 21 Jump Street, he has chosen to draw attention to Mr. Sentsov’s imprisonment.

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Image courtesy of The Voice Project and The Kyiv Post

The Voice Project speaks up for those who speak out, for those imprisoned around the globe for having raised their voice in dissent. We have to support each other, no matter the distance, no matter the borders. You never know when you’ll need the same in return.

For singers Trần Vũ Anh Bình and Nûdem Durek, filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, writer Dawit Isaak and poet Ashraf Fayadh, these individuals have fought for change, used their voices to speak out, and are paying with their freedom and their lives. We owe it to them to speak up now on their behalf.

Source: Represent

Nadya Tolokonnikova: The Year in Review

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Nadya Tolokonnikova
The Year in Review, or, An Eternal Russian Winter in Solitary Confinement
December 29, 2015
Facebook

We rang in 2015 seeing Oleg Navalny sent off to a penal colony for three and a half years for the fact his brother was involved in politics.

Pyotr Pavlensky rang in 2015 by starting a bonfire on a Moscow quay.

“You spend the year the way you ring it in,” said Pavlensky as he left the Guelman Gallery, where we were seeing in 2015, and went off to an icy quay on the River Yauza to start a fire.

In November 2015, Petya pulled off the biggest art action of the year by torching the doors of the FSB. Pavlensky will greet the New Year in a cell at Butyrka remand prison.

In 2015 we found out you cannot only be imprisoned for political activism but also gunned down for it in the center of Moscow.

As 2015 ended, arrests in the Bolotnaya Square case continued. Anarchist Dmitry Buchenkov was arrested on December 3. The defense claims he was not at Bolotnaya Square on May 6, 2012.

Gallerist Guelman held a charity auction at his gallery in support of the Bolotnaya Square prisoners. The result was that the Guelman Gallery was no longer Guelman’s gallery. He was not forgiven by the powers that be for the auction, and the gallery was wrested away from him.

But the government also made humane decisions in 2015. After sentencing Vasilyeva to five years in prison, the court let her out on parole two months later.

In 2015, the government also destroyed embargoed produce, because they had no fucking clue what to do about falling oil prices. Russians were weaned off the notion of stability and tightened their belts as the Russian economic crisis made $400 a month a serious, substantial salary, as in the early noughties. In a number of Russian cities, the critical debts owed by municipal governments to fuel suppliers have led to stoppages of public transport, and electric companies have turned off the lights in the stairwells of apartment blocks.

The myth of stability has been destroyed, the state is the new punk, a rifle is a party, and everything is going to fucking hell in a hand basket. The New Year’s meal, by the way, will cost on average 5,790 rubles this year, which is 28% more than a year ago. So it is better to save money on December 31 and take a nap.

And, while you are sleeping, to dream of Pyotr Pavlensky, Oleg Navalny, and Bolotnaya Square political prisoner Alexei Gaskarov celebrating the New Year in their prison cells and pouring Duchesse, a domestic carbonated beverage, into recycled plastic instant mashed potato cups.

Amen.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Image of Duchesse soda bottles courtesy of Frutto

Nadya Tolokonnikova: There Is No “People”

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Nadya Tolokonnikova
June 18, 2015

It is not for nothing they are so fond of the amorphous and faceless word narod, “the people.” There is no “people.” There is you and me, and that guy with the mustache, passing by on the street. “The people” smacks of prison camp standardization. They say “the people” so the individual feels like a tiny grain of sand, faceless and alone.

“We should not have got involved in this Ukrainian business . . . But generally I don’t like talking about politics,” my acquaintance from a small Russian town quietly whispers to me. Political miracles begin to occur when the belief she has a voice is born in my acquaintance, the belief in her own stance, which might differ from the majority’s position and still have the right to exist.

So that this belief does not emerge, she is told she is “the people.” But do something to make her realize she is not alone. Show her people who think like she does. Let her believe there is something besides atoms, separated and frightened by TV and mutual distrust, hidden in the cells of their nuclear families, and venting their anger and resentment within those families.

Source: Facebook

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Images courtesy, via a Google image search, of the website Pereprava, where, unsurprisingly, the exact opposite sentiments are expressed.