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One Year On: An Open Letter to the Women of Pussy Riot, Still Defiant

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PUSSY RIOT CANADA RUSSIA
AP

'Letters always make me happy. All in all, if people really do empathise, and if they have some strong feeling on this matter, I'd like them to let it out and channel into changing the political situation in Russia. And how - that's everyone's personal choice'.(Extract from: http://en.novayagazeta.ru/politics/56522.html)
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

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The Royal Court Theatre's 2012 Pussy Riot. Credit: Helen Murray

Dear Nadya and Maria,

I've never written to an activist or a prisoner before, I have no idea what I'm doing or what it must feel like to be you. I'm a fan I think. This is a sort of fan letter. This is a fan letter. Forgive me if this letter arrives at a bad time, or is irksome in any way. I was a big fan of a band called Take That who were popular here during the 1990s and again during 2010, but I never wrote to them, I did not feel compelled to in the same way. I've written to British artists once or twice to tell them that their work affected me, or that as people I am glad I know they exist because somehow they make me feel courageous. I wanted to write to you for that same reason.

I think about you both often. I wonder what it must be like to be in prison for your ideas, and something physical happens when I hear you speak in court live from the Russian courtroom through the ongoing stages of your trial and imprisonment. I'm sitting in my room, looking at my laptop and I can't believe it's real - it's like hearing a voice I had only ever dreamed existed, the unflinching, intellectual, political, artist saying what she thinks, precisely. You don't hear it very often on the radio or on the news here, although I am proud to have some friends like that. It seems funny to me that simply because Russia broadcasts its trials, it is from a Moscow courtroom, that unexpected source of radical truth, we get to hear the thing we crave, literally streaming out every time Pussy Riot have to go back in the dock.

We have held two events at the Royal Court Theatre in London, to acknowledge, resist and show solidarity towards your situation. Many people and artists have contributed to creating new work, responding to your art, politics and trial. I wanted to write to you on the anniversary of your sentencing 17 August 2012, to tell you that we haven't forgotten, and that we stand with you as well we can, and that you're not alone. Nothing will repair or compensate for the time you have had to spend expending energy on surviving prison rather than pursuing your cause, but I don't think it has been in vain. You've rocked the boat. What you did really showed us something, and it changed me and other writers and performers and directors I know and we can't go back.

If I ever make money I'm going to make sure I pay for feminist activists to go on holiday, somewhere of their choosing where they can rest and gather strength, the highlands or the fjords maybe. It is a thankless task, changing the world, but I wanted to say thank you anyway. And Happy Anniversary. It was a terrible day, but also the day we heard your voices loud and clear, and it was amazing.

Warmest wishes, E V Crowe.

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