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Russian activists Pussy Riot to star at 2018 Greenbelt Festival

27 March 2018

PA

Pussy Riot, the Russian musicians and activists, perform in Houston, Texas, in December

Pussy Riot, the Russian musicians and activists, perform in Houston, Texas, in December

THE Russian protest artists Pussy Riot are to headline at the Greenbelt Festival in August.

The line-up for Greenbelt, the four-day Christian festival of music, literature and activism in Northamptonshire, was announced on Tuesday morning.

Pussy Riot, a feminist punk-rock group, gained notoriety in 2012 when five of its variable membership staged a protest in the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, in Moscow. Three of the group — Yekaterina Samutsevich, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Maria Alyokhina — were arrested, found guilty by a Moscow court of “hooliganism driven by religious hatred”, and were imprisoned for two years.

More recently, the group held a performance and photography exhibition with fellow protest artist Pyotr Pavlensky, in London last year (News, 13 October). The exhibition, “Art Riot: Post-Soviet Actionism”, presented at the Saatchi Gallery by the Tsukanov Family Foundation, explored challenges to freedom of expression in the face of political ideology and religion.

Greenbelt will be hosted again at Boughton House, near Kettering — this year on the theme “Acts of the Imagination” which, the organisers say, will cover topics including climate change, UK poverty, Palestine-Israel, LGBT issues, interfaith, women, economics, and dissent.

Alexander SofeevPussy Riot

The creative director of Greenbelt, Paul Northup, wrote in a blog on Tuesday: “Some might wonder why Greenbelt — with our roots deep in the Christian tradition, committed to the vision of human liberation as shown by Jesus — is choosing to showcase a collective who, according to the charges brought against them, incited ‘religious hatred’ with their punk prayer Cathedral act in 2012.

“But this is exactly the reason why we’re so excited to have Pussy Riot at Greenbelt this summer. Because we’ve always revelled in creating a space that challenges structures and systems that hold back human freedom and flourishing. And we’ve always held our hands up to say that sometimes those barriers come from the Church itself.

“That’s what Pussy Riot were doing on that day back in 2012 — and continue to do today.”

Other performers highlighted by Greenbelt organisers include the New York-based indie-rock band We Are Scientists; the Latino and hip-hop group Ozomatli; and the musical comedy duo Flo & Joan.

Speakers at the festival are to include the Poet-Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, and the founder of the Glastonbury festival, Michael Eavis. And the British food writer and activist Jack Monroe, who caused such a sensation in 2017, returns for a second appearance.

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