Freed Pussy Riot member says protests must be "more cunning"
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Newly released from Russian prison, Pussy Riot's Yekaterina Samutsevich said her protests against Vladimir Putin's rule had to become "more cunning" and that she would fight to free fellow band members still in jail.
In one of her first interviews since a judge suspended her two-year sentence on Wednesday, Samutsevich, 30, said she was trying to deal with public attention and increased scrutiny by the authorities.
"I want to continue the actions of Pussy Riot, but that means you have to be more careful and you have to be more cunning," she said on radio station Echo Moskvy.
"You have to understand that all your conversations are being listened to and your mail is being read," said Samutsevich, who spent time in prison reading books by Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek and French thinker Michel Foucault.
In the interview she aimed broadsides at Putin's rule, saying it had grown too close to the Russian Orthodox Church.
Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhdha Tolokonnikova, 22, were sentenced in August to two years in prison for singing a profanity-laced "punk prayer" in Moscow's main cathedral asking the Virgin Mary to "throw Putin out".
They were prosecuted for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. Samutsevich said the women had no intention of offending believers.
"We are trying to attract people's attention ... to the merging of the church and the governmental authorities, and we attained that. We've attracted people's attention to it and moreover the whole world is talking about it."
The Pussy Riot case sparked an international outcry, with Western governments and pop star Madonna condemning the sentences as disproportionate, a view not widely shared in Russia where public opinion was shocked by the protest.
In the appeal hearing, Samutsevich's lawyer stressed she had not actually performed the protest song near the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral in February because she had been stopped and led away before it took place.
Suspending her sentence, the judge said Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova had to serve out their time in jail. The Orthodox Church, led by Patriarch Kirill, lobbied in favor of punishing the women and warned believers their faith was under attack.
Samutsevich said the women planned to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.
"Of course the most important thing is freeing Masha (Maria) and Nadya (Nadezhda) and attaining justice," she said.
When asked if she would do the whole thing over again, Samutsevich said she would have no choice.
"Yes, of course, because we back then we couldn't have stayed silent. It was an unacceptable situation, such impudence of authorities, the impudence of Patriarch Kirill," she said.
(Reporting by Thomas Grove; editing by Andrew Roche)