PEN on Twitter

A Dozen Writers Put Down Their Pens to Prove the Might of a March
"No one knew quite what to expect on Sunday. But when the 12 writers left Pushkin Square at lunchtime, they were trailed by a crowd that swelled to an estimated 10,000 people, stopping traffic and filling boulevards for 1.2 miles. Many wore the white ribbons that are a symbol of opposition to Mr. Putin’s government. The police did not interfere, although the organizers had not received a permit to march."
(via Russian Writers Demonstrate the Might of a March - NYTimes.com)
Photo by Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times 

A Dozen Writers Put Down Their Pens to Prove the Might of a March

"No one knew quite what to expect on Sunday. But when the 12 writers left Pushkin Square at lunchtime, they were trailed by a crowd that swelled to an estimated 10,000 people, stopping traffic and filling boulevards for 1.2 miles. Many wore the white ribbons that are a symbol of opposition to Mr. Putin’s government. The police did not interfere, although the organizers had not received a permit to march."

(via Russian Writers Demonstrate the Might of a March - NYTimes.com)

Photo by Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times 

1

Ludmila Ulitskaya in Conversation

Recipient of the 2002 Russian Booker Prize, Ludmila Ulitskaya is considered the heir to Chekhov and among the most important writers in Russia today. In 2008, Ulitskaya began secretly corresponding with Amnesty International “prisoner of conscience” Mikhail Khordorkovsky, the anti-Putin Russian oligarch serving 14 years in a Siberian camp. Speaking through interpreter Jennifer Wolfson, the author read excerpts from that correspondence and discussed the current political, cultural, and social situation in Russia, with special attention to the ongoing anti-Putin protests and the recent presidential election.

This event took place as part of the 2012 PEN World Voices Festival.

Co-sponsored by The Cooper Union and The Renova Group of Companies.

6
Russian protestors clash with riot police in Moscow 
News this week that Russian authorities had arrested more protestors and that teams of investigators raided the homes of blogger Aleksei Navalny, television star Kseniya Sobchak, and other prominent opposition voices is further proof of an intensifying struggle over freedom of expression in Russia. 
Navigating this treacherous terrain is the Russian PEN Center, chartered in 1988 and an important defender of the freedom to write in the post-Soviet era. Among Russian PEN’s most important campaigns were efforts to challenge the jailing of Grigory Pasko and Aleksander Nikitin. The center paid a stiff a price for its activism when then-President Putin sought to impose exorbitant land taxeson the organization’s central Moscow offices. For more than five years, the center was tied down in court with its assets frozen by the state.
Click here to read more

Russian protestors clash with riot police in Moscow

News this week that Russian authorities had arrested more protestors and that teams of investigators raided the homes of blogger Aleksei Navalny, television star Kseniya Sobchak, and other prominent opposition voices is further proof of an intensifying struggle over freedom of expression in Russia. 

Navigating this treacherous terrain is the Russian PEN Center, chartered in 1988 and an important defender of the freedom to write in the post-Soviet era. Among Russian PEN’s most important campaigns were efforts to challenge the jailing of Grigory Pasko and Aleksander Nikitin. The center paid a stiff a price for its activism when then-President Putin sought to impose exorbitant land taxeson the organization’s central Moscow offices. For more than five years, the center was tied down in court with its assets frozen by the state.

Click here to read more

1
Russian investigator Aleksandr I. Bastrykin apologizes for allegedly threatening to kill Sergei Sokolov, deputy editor of Novaya Gazeta. His apology included sending Sokolov a wristwatch. Three reporters from Novaya Gazeta have been killed in the past decade. Meanwhile, Sokolov had fled into exile. We will be posting Russian PEN’s response to the apology soon.
(via Russia’s Chief Federal Investigator Apologizes for Threatening Journalist - NYTimes.com)

Russian investigator Aleksandr I. Bastrykin apologizes for allegedly threatening to kill Sergei Sokolov, deputy editor of Novaya Gazeta. His apology included sending Sokolov a wristwatch. Three reporters from Novaya Gazeta have been killed in the past decade. Meanwhile, Sokolov had fled into exile. We will be posting Russian PEN’s response to the apology soon.

(via Russia’s Chief Federal Investigator Apologizes for Threatening Journalist - NYTimes.com)

6

PEN International is shocked by Russian court’s decision to keep the members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot in jail at least until late July. A court in the city said that they should stay in custody while an investigation is carried out. According to press reports the court reasoned that the defendants could “destroy evidence” if they were freed.

(Source: pen-international.org)

A young Russian mocks a restrictive new protest law by staging a legal protest of one. The video went viral.

Rostislav Zhuravlyov’s decision to mock the recently passed law imposing stiff fines for unsanctioned demonstrations by complying with it to the point of absurdity.
 
Zhuravlyov managed to secure official permission , and a police escort, for a solitary stroll through Yekaterinburg — and then posted a video of the entire episode on LiveJournal and YouTube.

PEN International and 21 other international human rights and free expression organizations have issued an open letter to the Russian Duma protesting a draft law that would label non-governmental organizations that receive any international funding “foreign agents.”

The draft bill is the latest in a long line of Putinesque maneuvers aimed at chilling civil society in Russia; Russian PEN is only now emerging from a six-year legal battle stemming from an earlier attempt to shackle human rights and free expression organizations. The “foreign agents” proposal comes amid a wave of legislation clearly aimed at squelching dissent. Last month, Putin signed a bill imposing massive penalties on peaceful protesters and protest organizers, and the Duma is currently considering a bill that would give the government substantial control over Internet content.

5

Unless you’ve been living on Mars under one of those rocks that haven’t yet been upturned by the Curiosity Rover, you probably know that three members of an all-girl punk band called Pussy Riot are on trial in Russia this week for having performed a song critical of Russia’s dictator president Vladimir Putin. OK, so they sang their song “Punk Prayer” in a church, while wearing ski masks in high-fashion colors, and they prayed to the Virgin Mary to have Putin removed from office. Well, wonder of wonders, Putin has no sense of humor, or maybe he just has no patience for people going around pointing out the absence of freedoms in Russia. I mean, even in the U.S. these days you can get yourself arrested and held indefinitely without warrant, charge, or trial (in case you missed it, our president signed that one quietly into law last winter; a federal judge just declared the provision unconstitutional, but our government may nonetheless be continuing to use it as a basis for arrests). So we should be keeping a sharp eye on Russia, because certain Putin-style unfreedoms are starting to take root here as well.

And you have to hand it to Pussy Riot: they really did get their clear, simple message across. What political statement could be more pure than praying to be liberated from an oppressive regime? The group’s three lead singers—Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29—are also clearly intelligent political thinkers. Even after having been locked away for months in unreasonable detention, apparently under very poor conditions, all three of them managed to produce coherent, moving, incisive closing statements to be read out during their trial last week. And now you can read these statements on N+1, which published them yesterday. I strongly encourage you to read them. I found the strength and intelligence of these young women profoundly inspiring. And then I started wondering how it was that we were able to read these statements so quickly, seeing as none of our major news organizations (with all their resources and staff translators) bothered to provide us with translations. And it turns out that this was a volunteer effort of the sort facilitated by the existence of social media.

Read More



Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova: Why I have gone on hunger strike

"The penal colony administration refuses to hear me. But I, in turn, refuse to back down from my demands. I will not remain silent, resigned to watch as my fellow prisoners collapse under the strain of slavery-like conditions. I demand that the colony administration respect human rights; I demand that the Mordovia camp function in accordance with the law. I demand that we be treated like human beings, not slaves."
"The penal colony administration refuses to hear me. But I, in turn, refuse to back down from my demands. I will not remain silent, resigned to watch as my fellow prisoners collapse under the strain of slavery-like conditions. I demand that the colony administration respect human rights; I demand that the Mordovia camp function in accordance with the law. I demand that we be treated like human beings, not slaves."