20. Feb. 2014

News

The Russian punk collective Pussy Riot released a new video in Sochi. It shows both activists Nadeschda Tolokonnikova and Marija Aljochina together with other members of the collective being beaten and arrested by security forces in Sochi. Cinema for Peace and the group organized a press conference in Sochi which had to take place outdoor at the last minute, due to a burst pipe at the location where it was planned – a hotel. In spite of the unforeseen event, the press conference was attended by leading international news agencies. At the press conference the brutal attacks were described and the release of environment activists was demanded.


"CINEMA FOR PEACE AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES WITH PUSSY RIOT"

The purpose of the trip organized by Cinema for Peace for Pussy Riot was to watch the Olympic Games. However, the activists were denied access to the sports competitions, as every visitor must pass an accreditation procedure, from which human rights activists are rejected, contrary to the past Olympic Games.

The IOC has falsely communicated through its press spokesperson that Pussy Riot did not come to Sochi because of the Olympic Games.

During the press conference there were no attacks or arrests carried out by security forces as in the days before. Instead, demonstrators against the group gathered at the place of the press conference.

"We demand the end of repressions against Pussy Riot and other Kremlin-critical activists. We interpret the fact that there are no arrests or violence this time as a positive sign", explains Jaka Bizilj, founder of Cinema for Peace, who also was present in Sochi. "Olympic Games should be a place for a peaceful togetherness, where freedom of expression is respected. We hope that other activists get amnestied as well", continued Bizilj. Members of Pussy Riot left Sochi for Moscow to advocate for the release of the prisoners who are in jail for the anti-Putin demonstrations of the 6th of May 2012.

In the two and a half minutes long video which has been edited the night before, it can be seen, among other things, how a uniformed Cossack brutally hits the masked women with a whip, and how Nadya and Masha are thrown to the ground.

Bizilj had picked up the band members from the hospital, because in addition to injuries - among others a blood wound to the head - the effects of the pepper spray had to be examined.

In the clip they have filmed in Sochi, Pussy Riot also denounces how unprecedented police presence in Sochi was.

The Russian state granted amnesty to Tolokonnikowa and Aljochina in the end of December 2013, so that they were able to leave the prison camp earlier. The two band members attended the Cinema for Peace Gala in February 2014 at the Konzerthaus Berlin and made a statement against the inhumane conditions in prisons and labor camps in Russia.

Cinema for Peace had already supported international sports events in the past, which share the ideal to connect people, and started in 2008 the Sports for Peace initiative, that brought Muhammad Ali to the Olympic Games in London in 2012, and Nelson Mandela to the World Cup in South Africa as a Honorary Patron, and also began a campaign for education with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. In partnership with Amnesty International, Sports for Peace brought together more than 100 world and Olympic champions in Peking to promote successful Olympic Games in China - respecting human rights in the country and in Tibet.

Cinema for Peace has worked for years with the help of Russian artists and filmmakers to draw attention to grievances. Together with the Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner Michail Gorbachev and Leonardo DiCaprio, Cinema for Peace established the “Green Oscar”, which is presented once a year at the Gala in Berlin. In addition, the Foundation also co-worked on a film about the murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and supports the investigation of Sergei Magnitsky’s case, who was tortured and murdered in a Russian prison, since a film about Magnitsky was awarded at the Cinema for Peace Gala in Berlin.