Members of Pussy Riot Launch Independent News Service in Russia
Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina have launched MediaZona - a new independent Russian news outlet focussing on courts, law enforcement and the prison system. (website: zona.media). This project is intended to work hand-in-hand with their prisoners rights NGO "Zona Prava" ("Justice Zone") which was launched earlier this year and is focused on protecting prisoners' rights.
The new media outlet Mediazona will closely monitor conditions in Russian prisons, police stations and courts with one of Russia's most famous political journalists Sergey Smirnov as its editor-in-chief.
Pussy Riot member Nadya Tolokonnikova hopes that this new media outlet will close the void created by the Kremlin's clampdown on independent media which has been ongoing since the beginning of 2014. "Since our release from prison 6 months ago we've felt that Russian media are no longer able to cover what is going on," says Tolokonnikova. "Because of the heavy censorship by authorities there is no space for anything in the media that criticises Putin's policies and tracks human rights abuses by Russian courts and law enforcement. Courts, prisons, arrests, convictions, riots in facilities, political criminal cases, crimes by law enforcement officials - our new media outlet will try to cover it all."
Maria Alekhina believes that the focus of Russian social and political life has heavily shifted towards courts and prisons: "There is hardly any political issues left in Russia outside of courtrooms - and there is a great need for transparency and media coverage of things that are happening down there, so we hope that Mediazona will help close that gap and change the face of independent Russian media."
Nadya Tolokonnikova posted the following statement to Facebook:
Today we opened up our very own NEWS OUTLET. Today's launch is the answer to your questions about what we were doing since we got out at New Years' eve last year. We got out of "the zone" to create our own "zones". And here it is: http://www.zona.media
What do you think?
1. Why a news outlet?
Sometimes in prison it was easier to give a fellow prisoner a copy of a good political magazine rather then to answer the same basic questions over and over again. Usually after some reading time questions like "And why the hell are you doing all this protest stuff?" simply went away.
2. Why have Pussy Riot launched their own news outlet? Isn't it better to continue with wild performances?
Firstly, we were always heavily involved with media: our actions were an attempt to break down the information blackout imposed by Putin's authorities.
Secondly, our news outlet has a team of the best journalists in Russia. The editor-in-chief is Russia's best political and social news editor - Sergey Smirnov and the other main guys are the best reporters out there - Elena Shmaraeva (former Gazeta.ru, TvRain), Egor Skovoroda (former "Bolshoi Gorod", "Russkaya Planeta", "The New Times"), Maria Klimova (former Polit.ru, "Russkaya Planeta").
Thirdly, myself and Masha - we love to write, and we hope that if we do it well enough our editor-in-chief Mr.Smirnov will kindly allow us to be published in Mediazona too (kidding!).
3. What is the news outlet going to write about?
Courts, prisons, arrests, convictions, riots in penitentiary facilities, political criminal cases, crimes by law enforcement officials, life of present-day and former prisoners and lots of other things.
For instance, today's Mediazona "Number of the day" section tells you that 30% of all criminal acquittals in Russia are when police officers or officials are on trial. And that's when the national acquittal rate in courts is just 0.7%.
4. Why "The zone"?
"The zone" has become something like an umbrella term for all our projects. As you know, in addition to Mediazona, a couple months ago we've launched the prisoners rights NGO Zona Prava. We will take back the rights that belong to us from the state - step by step.
Mediazona. Your zone.