One of the members of Russian punk band protestors Pussy Riot tells that they have no regrets and will continue to fight, despite the fact that two were jailed and two others are in hiding over their protests of Vladimir Putin.
The band’s fifth member, Katya Samutsevich, was put on trial and convicted after the group staged a protest against Putin and his crackdown on democrat freedoms at Moscow’s largest cathedral last year, but she was released after seven months. She recently agreed to sit down with Lesley Stahl for an interview but only if her voice was disguised and she was allowed to wear a balaklava, one of the group’s trademark masks. Samutsevich, who says few people know her identity, reveals that one reason she granted the interview to let the world know that the band still exists.
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Asked if she has any regrets about the March 2012 protest, Samutsevich replies: "No, of course not. Look what’s happened. Since the election, Putin has brought in a new level of repressive government measures in Russia."
She also claims that last year’s election of Putin was rigged and says the group is advocating for a "peaceful overthrow" of Putin.
"The elections weren’t legitimate," she says. "There was vote rigging. There was false counting. It was clear that the president put himself in power."
Samutsevich adds that the group never thought about asking the judge for leniency because "the whole process was so unfair to us from the beginning. It’s strange when you’re innocent. Are you supposed to ask for forgiveness from the judge who’s ready to put you away for several years? No, this wasn’t even discussed."
Samutsevich — a computer engineer — adds that the group has intentionally "dumbed-down" the language they use in order to get more attention (for example, the song they used during the protest used numerous curse words).
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Meanwhile, Putin’s political spokesman tells Stahl that the group members were given a harsher sentence then they deserved out of fear that other protests would follow.
"It’s duty of authorities to stop the violence," Sergei Markov says, adding that the perception that Russia over-reacted has been detrimental to the nation’s image. ( and Madonna, among others, have drawn attention to the jailed group members and called for their release.)
"We doesn’t like such awful image of Russia because it create problems for us. This image doesn’t allow millions of Russians who want to travel to Germany, Italy, France and to have vacations there easily, they don’t allow to do this. It stops investments to Russian economy."
But, he adds, "we have to protect ourselves because if we will be weak, our image will be even worse."
Meanwhile, Samutsevich adds that Pussy Riot isn’t done protesting Putin just yet.
"It’s a fight, it’s an ongoing fight," she says. "Just because there was a court case doesn’t mean that we’re going to stop and shut our mouths. We have a lot of things to say. We’re going to continue to work, continue to do what we do."
Watch a video of Stahl and producers talking about how the interview came together below.