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Attention-Grabbing & Scandalous

Newly-released Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich responded ambiguously to questions from a REN (Russian independent television station) interviewer about the ‘scandalous‘ nature of her group’s activities.

REN: How can you participate in the group’s actions if they must be attention-grabbing and scandalous?

YS: Yes, we have discussed it with my lawyer.  There is that kind of problem.

REN: And you have no idea how to solve it, do you?

YS: It’s not yet clear how. We will be finding ways around this question.

Her statements contrast sharply with those made from the court by her counterparts Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova on Wednesday, demonstrating the ideological split that is perhaps in line with the fact that the other two women remain behind bars.  The Guardian has video of the exchange, with English subtitles.

There’s also some interesting analysis, by Kevin Rothrock at Global Voices Online, of the fall-out of Samutsevich’s release. Online commentators believe variously that the Kremlin is attempting to create a split among the group’s members and their supporters, whilst others see Samutsevich as having ‘betrayed‘ her co-conspirators.

This angle, however, fails to capture the proportionality aspect of the government’s latest move. Driving a wedge between Pussy Riot’s supporters and sympathizers is just one facet of yesterday’s court decision. Samutsevich’s release also signals that the state will respond varyingly to various types of protest. Less disruptive behavior, it turns out, will be punished less. This is a novelty for the case. So far, the Pussy Riot trial as a Russian social event has communicated only threats to the country’s protest movement. “Any kind of unconventional demonstrations won’t be tolerated,” the memo read.