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two members of the band at Almedalen in Visby

Pussy Riot in Sweden to show world is watching

Published måndag 1 juli 2013 kl 17.13
Pussy riot in Sweden. Photo: Henrik Montogomery/Scanpix.

Two members of the Russian dissident punk art collective Pussy Riot paid a secret visit to Sweden's largest island of Gotland where the week long political event Almedalen is taking place in the medieval town of Visby. Two other members of the eleven strong collective are still in prison in Russia.

"If they are forgotten about they will receive harsher treatment. We want to show the Russian authorities that the world is watching," says Serafima to news agency TT.  

Serafima and her companion Shaiba made it clear to TT that they are actually called something else. The media that meet them in an inner courtyard in Visby are also asked not to give any physical descriptions of them. All pictures are taken with a hood on.

"We try to be as cautious as possible. The goal is not to end up in prison. We want to continue our struggle," says Shaiba with interpreter assistance.

Three members of Pussy Riot were jailed for two years last summer after staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral. The judge convicted the women of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, saying they had "crudely undermined social order".

The women said the protest was directed at the Russian Orthodox Church leader's support for Mr Putin. The judgement was criticised for its severity by many in the EU.

Serafima and Shaiba have been taken to Visby by human rights organisation Civil Rights Defenders, Folkets Hus och Parker and Ebba Lindqvist PR.

The women are on a journey and have visited the United States and several European countries.

"We also meet politicians and ask them to try to influence things when they meet politicians from our country," says Shaiba to TT.

The women criticize developments in Russia such as in human rights, freedom of expression, women's rights and conditions in prisons.

"The laws are designed to silence us, and it just shows that what we do is right," says Serafima.

The two women also say that resistance is growing in Putin's Russia.

"The authorities should be afraid. We are not afraid, we know we are not alone," says Serafima.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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