Traditionally, Russia played a massive role in contributing to world culture as a powerful art exporter throughout centuries. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, this export dried up. Pussy Riot is the most well-known art project coming out of Russia in decades. But its members paid a terrible price for this success – some of them, like the band's front woman Nadya Tolokonnikova, were sent to prison. Many now live in exile.
"It is not a question of social regress in our country. It is regress happening in the mind of one person – Vladimir Putin. It is his personal regress and because of his power, he could spread this regress on all the country," Nadya Tolokonnikova, an iconic Russian conceptual artist tells Hromadske, adding that in reality, many of her fellow Russians are not so conservative as President Putin likes to portray them.
Being "queer" has a much deeper, broader and richer meaning than just being gay. It is about being different, standing out. This is exactly why Nadya Tolokonnikova fights not only for her artistic freedom, but also for freedom from being oppressed as an individual, whether it be as an artist, a politician, a feminist or a gay person.
Unfortunately, Russia and Eastern Europe have a long history of having a huge problem with people expressing and manifesting their individuality. Nadya went through hell in prison, just for standing out. Hromadske's Maxim Eristavi spoke to her about Russian cultural exports and why they dried out and about the meaning of being queer in Eastern Europe.
Hromadske's Maxim Eristavi sat down with Pussy Riot's Nadya Tolokonnikova for an interview in Kyiv in April 2016.