Nadya Tolokonnikova looked determined, driven and single-minded as she spoke to me on Zoom in a Pussy Riot T-shirt. Back when she founded Pussy Riot in 2011, her feminist protest art was serious. The watching world may have been drawn to her playful tone, guerrilla performances in unauthorized venues, culminating in her performing punk prayers at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour: Mother of God, who was accused when she sang Putin away event.
But the consequences have been seismic and severe. Tolokonnikova and two other members of Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in prison in 2012 for hooliganism, separated from their young children, went on hunger strike, suffered unimaginably poor conditions and are considered prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International.
Tolokonnikova is “a natural nomad,” she said. “This planet is my home. I’ve always been an anarchist. Actually, I’m not a big fan of borders or nation-states.” But behind these abstractions lie concrete dangers. In December, she was declared a “foreign agent” by the Kremlin, as was Mediazone, an independent news agency she founded after her release from prison.
“Putin just signed a law that if you talk about the war in Ukraine you will be jailed for 15 years,” she said soberly. “You can’t even call it a war, you have to call it a special military operation.” The danger of becoming a prominent Russian dissident today is greater than it has been in decades, and no one understands this better than Tolokonnikova One point, he was born in 1989 and remembers reform as a young man.
But her focus is not on self-preservation. When Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24, she and several colleagues from the cryptocurrency world founded the Ukrainian DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization). This is a 1/1 non-fungible token (NFT) of the Ukrainian flag, and the group invited people to bid for collective ownership of the image, raising $7.1 million in five days.
“We felt, me and my crypto friends, we had to react in some way. I personally think activism is the only thing that keeps you awake in this situation. Just looking at disasters and tragedies, Doing nothing is really bad for the world, but it also slowly destroys you and leaves you feeling helpless. Nursing, ammunition, training and defense analysis support mobilized for the Ukrainian army.
When you fight a dictator like Putin, you have to show them you’re ready to die – and I am
Tolokonnikova was shocked by the Ukrainian invasion. “I’m panicking, I cry every day. I don’t think it’s necessary in any way, I don’t think it’s logical in any way. It’s not something that has to happen, it’s an event that will end thousands of lives. disaster. I was horrified.” But she was never complacent about Putin’s abilities. “The international community is very complacent and I see two reasons: hypocrisy based on greed. People will claim that they are Putin for not pro-politics and his crackdown on political opposition and the war he has waged – this is by no means the first war. But at the same time, they will continue to do business with him.” No one was interested in chasing money; they asked, like the oligarchs, who came from Russia and showed up in Europe and Miami, and they made huge fortunes.
“Stupid,” she continued bluntly. “That’s the second reason. People underestimate the dangers of dictators. In 2014, we talked to the British Parliament, we talked to the US Senate, and a lot of people asked us how to talk to Putin, how to have a dialogue, and I Always advise them to be as strict as possible. You can’t get along with Putin.” That wisdom came not from her arrest for insulting a skinny leader, but from her time in prison. “Dictators behave in a similar way to prison guards. They see kindness as a weakness.”