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Elena Masyuk - The New Times

Right now a lot of people are accusing all three of you of making a name for yourself out of these three unfortunate young women from Pussy Riot and assuring your future income as lawyers: indeed, if your name gets around, the price for your services goes up.

Mark Feygin Nikolay Polozov Violetta Volkova Lawyers pussy riot free pussy riot free pussy riot
Photo: Nikolay Polozov, Mark Feygin, Tolokonnikova daughter, Hera, Violetta Volkova.



Mark Feygin: Undoubtedly, we are using our status inorder to add more significance, information, publicity, etc., both to this case and to ourselves. But the character of such cases presupposes nothing else: one shouldn't get into political advocacy without active public tendencies. In circumstances where there is no justice, it just isn't possible to help in any other way.

Violetta Volkova: Initially the case didn't foreshadow such a racket. The main PR manager in this case is the state itself

Power won't forgive

Mark, You have been a deputy for the State Duma from the party "Russia's Democratic Vote", you have been a member of "Solidarity", you made a statement at Bolotnaya square on Dec. 10th. Are you a politician?

Feygin: Yes. However, to be a politician in Russia - this isn't a profession, you need some other occupation, as well. I started political advocacy not long ago, and this was because one Pussy Riot member, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a friend of mine, asked me to do so. Prior to that I was rather engaged in not so public cases.

But in profitable, remunerative ones?

Feygin: Yes. But they now have disapeared, for I was aware of the fact that as soon as you gain prominence as a lawyer in such kind of cases, the other side vanishes.

Violetta, you were a successful prosecutor, then you dealt with anti-raid-cases, you were well off, and then, suddenly, political advocacy. And apparently, as with Mark, those cases that provide for a stable income, did they disappear, as well?

Volkova: Absolutely all business clients that I had, terminated their agreements with me as of August 1st. The last client, who terminated his agreement with me, openly confessed that because of my political activity as lawyer, he received the advice from certain bodies of power, to better take care of his business and better renounce my legal services. In what follows, I think, it is absolutely natural that I will continue my activity as lawyer in exactly this field of politcal advocacy.

But you do understand that the authorities will not forgive what you are doing now?


Feygin: Won't forgive, won't forgive ever.

You're lawyers, can't you protect yourself somehow?

Volkova: Well, that's not realistic - to protect ourselves. The criminal proceedings against Udaltsov (that trial is proceeding absolutely scandalously in Ulianovsk), the current Pussy Riot trial in Moscow, both speak to the fact that if the state needs to crush you, it will do so, regardless of any laws, any international legal norms, regardless of public opinion. Therefore to expect mercy from the state doesn't suit us.

On the Internet it says: "Nikolay Polozov: professional, reliable, successful". Do you think that the Pussy Riot case will be successful for you?

Nikolay Polozov: When managing a case, I think first of all, naturally, about my clients, because as a rule that the main interest of a lawyer is, in addition to his reputation, the payment. Regarding the Pussy Riot case, our clients are not able to pay for lawyers. 

But there is still a Yandex account, where people donate money for the defense of the girls.

Feygin: To date we have collected 380 thousand roubles over five months. This money is used for the court trial. There are a lot of people coming and going, we organize some actions, they send a lot of money, postcards and posters to the girls, as well as books, medicine and hygiene products... And this has lasted already for five months. Three people - five months in jail. 

The trial

Violetta, I saw you at the meeting of the Pussy Riot case, you were acting very desperately, sometimes you were even sharply arguing with the judge. Such a feeling - not to be afraid. Are you really not afraid?

Volkova: You know, I have a feeling that this is our last job, because after this trial we will probably be denied to practice as lawyers. What we see in this case: the constant harassment by the state prosecutor, the offences by the court itself, which issues completely unacceptable statements that violate the legal ethics - every one says that we have deliberately provoked them. A trial should be a symbol of justice and law, but it has lost its meaning, we don't see a trial in this form in which it should be. We see attempts of the authorities to humiliate the lawyers in the eyes of the journalists who sit in the courtroom. This is done intentionally. The judge has imposed on us one absolutely inappropriate and humiliating trial.

Have you ever run into this before?

Feygin: No, there's been nothing quite like this.

Polozov: Never. There have been various other trials of all kinds, even on political cases - Idefended Sergei Udaltsov, Alexei Navalny, Sergei Mitrokhin from Yabloko, and ordinary activists who don't have such resounding political names. Even in these courts, even in the odious court of Borovkova...

Volkova: ... who seems like a downright symbol of justice...

Polozov: She does not allow herself what the Khamovnichesky court allows. My conversations have been overheard, I noticed "shadows" after me on several occasions, cars after me, a very thick umbrella all over us. The authorities have created their own perimeter of supervision. But I think that what I do and what my colleages do puts us far above our persecutors morally.

Feygin: It is outrageous, permitted from above.

At what level was it allowed?

Feygin: The highest.

Where the Kremlin star shines?

Feygin: Yes, of course, Vladimir Vladimirovich is engaged in the Pussy Riot case.

We were duped

Did the authorities try to talk to you?

Polozov: We have a story when I was running a campaign with intellectuals writing in support of the girls and some of the people who signed had conversations with the president's adiministration. And at some moment we actually received a call from someone from the president's administration, at too high a level to believe, as it was the eve of the meeting of Mosgorsud (Moscow State Court), where they were due to consider the application for extension of the arrest. We were told that our question would be resolved favorably, if we hint about it to the "guys".

"The guys" - who is that, the media?

Polozov: The public - that this contact has taken place.

Did you hint?

Polozov: I conscientiously hinted in my twitter.

And they deceived you - indeed, the girls were not released?

Polozov: They duped us in a dirty way, showing us where, from their perspective, our place was in the process.

Why did you believe them at first place?

Polozov: At that moment there was still hope that we could resolve the process in informal ways, because we use informal ways more actively than than legal methods, and there had not been a case where we were just deceived [reproached].

That is, it was a condition that you should make an announcement the night before, and only in that case they would be released?

Polozov: Of course, it sounded like such a requirement, and I took on the responsibility.

Feygin: It was our mistake.

Children of the defendants

Now you are taking legal responsibility for the children of your clients...

Feygin: This is a back-up plan in case they are in danger.

You, Mark, are taking responsibility for Tolokonnikova's daughter Hera?

Feygin: At some point there was a danger that Peter Verzilov (Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's husband - The New Times) will also be taken as a defendand and put under special measures, such as detention. And then what? According to the Juvenile Code the child could be send in foster care. We had to double-check different things, and one of them was that.

And you, Nikolay, are taking responsibility for the son of Alyokhina?

Polozov: Here the situation is a little bit better, Nikita, the lawful husband of Maria, is a completely independent person and is not involved in the trial even as a witness. At least Philip, the young son of Maria, has his father.

Feygin: But nothing can be ruled out, because they have a civil marriage and at this moment they are putting a lot of pressure on Maria in the jail, and there was a threat that after the conviction she might be deprived of all rights to her child, including because of the advanced age of her mother.

And you, Violetta, as far as I know, now take responsibility for Udaltsov's children?

Volkova: Both of the Udaltsovs were involved in the case of the 6th of May. We talked to Sergey that in case of danger and in the absence of other close relatives, we will have responsibility for some period of time.

Twitter university

How did it all start?

Polozov: In Twitter I shared my thoughts rather freely, criticized the current authorities, described a situation in which it was impossible to work normally. There comes a point where all the work of a lawyer despite its primary meaning turns into something like armoured-car delivery of banknotes from the client to the judge, to the prosecutor, to the investigator. That always inwardly sickened me.

You didn't want to be a delivery boy. And were you?

Polozov: Now, I never did that kind of thing. In law I conducted cases absolutely honestly, and if a client asked me to "settle the matter", I immediately explained my position. At some point Violetta Vladimirovna saw me in twitter, read my seditious utterances and proposed that I come out to observe alongside the demonstration on the fifth of December.

Volkova: The auhorities didn't want there to be a big fuss. Any demonstration, even an officially permitted one, is like a red flag for them. I had imagined that, after the demonstration, there would be detainees, but I didn't think it would be on such a scale, because there were about 300 detainees.

So you didn't go to the actions on the 31st of the month?

Volkova: I didnt even know there were such actions. I knew the name Navalny, but I didn't know who Yashin was, I'd never heard the name Udaltsov. On the 10th of December, when we got caught up in the defense of Udaltsov, it was completely unclear to me who were were going to defend.

I get the impression that you watched TV channels 1 and 2.

Volkova: Something like that.

And afterwards you started going to protest demonstrations?

Volkova: Two or three times. We try not to go to demonstrations, it interferes with work. If we and our colleagues show up at demonstrations, we automatically go from defenders to participants, so preferably you don't show up at events where you are a defender. We should distance ourselves from them a bit, so the authorities don't have a chance to arrest us, like the rest.

And how many such political cases do each of you have right now?

Volkova: I can't even count. A lot. I am working on cases from the 6th of May, I'm participating as one of the lawyers in the criminal proceedings of the environmentalists who encroached on the sacred fence of Governor Tkachev*, the case of the National Bolsheviks...

(*Meaning the criminal prosecution of the members of Environmental Watch on North Caucasus, who are seeking a ban on the illegal construction of a summer house for the Krasnodarsk governor by the Tua River

Aren't your colleagues afraid to meet with you, to call you up?

Volkova: They aren't afraid to meet us and call us, but to get into the trial proceedings... I asked a colleague to join the proceedings on the 6th of May in the capacity of an assistant, since there were so many detainees and there will be still more detainees; indeed there's a reason why the investigative team is made up of 200 people. The colleague refused.

And how many more will they detain?

Volkova: We received information that there will be 50-60 more, maybe 70.

Will Navalny, Udaltsov, Yashin be "rounded up"?

Volkova: I'm more than certain.

Internal weakness

Mark, on the main page of your site is the phrase: "Of course, we epigons of the 90s look like traitors to Putin's Russia: traitors to their customs, to their rules, to their cult." What are the rights, rules and cults of Putin's Russia?

Feygin: This is an ideology-free system, authoritarian and corporate in its own way and, most importantly, materially motivated. That's what it pivots around. But politically it compels society to completely give up any claims toward the authorities, to make no challanges to authority. You can do a lot within the limits of individual freedoms: you can travel abroad from Russia and return... you don't have to join any kind of ideological societies, you don't have to be a member of "United Russia"; you don't even have to be Russian Orthodox.

But you have to hold your tongue about it.

Feygin: It's a certain kind of new reality, not so long ago it made absolutely no difference.

Where did it come from, I can't find another word, this political orthodoxy?

Feygin: This is a very utalitarian thing, it appeared in the authorities out of a need to replace the lack of an ideological form with something else. But what else? Western democracy? Democracy does not come naturally to them, it limits their abilities as rulers. What else is in the closet? Support from the Church, the clergy, to the authorities. I can't really see any christianity there, it is one bureaucratic machine, the Synod, a corporation. In this model, the orthodoxy serves as a core ideology. By the way, it could be used for any other denominations... 

Our main comrades in power go in the Orthodox church with candles under the cameras twice a year...

Feygin: And that's all! That says it all - decoration, imitation. But there are several factors with which Putin cannot deal. First, there has appeared a revolutionary generation, we can see on the protests that there are 20-22 year-olds, sometimes even 18 year-olds, which has not happened before. Second, Putin himself is getting old.

But why is Putin dealing with Pussy Riot?

Feygin: To justify the transition to even more rigid authoritarianism.

But wait, he also shows his weakness: three girls...

Feygin: We understand this, and he refers to them in another way.

Polozov: From the very beginning he has been leading the case. He has been asked about Pussy Riot after the elections, immediately after their arrest, and he apologized to the Orthodox community and promised that this will never happen again.

How can he promise this?

Polozov: Just after the elections Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin considered himself as very powerful.

And now?

Feygin: He has not changed, but in the period between the elections in the Duma and the presidential elections he probably felt fear. What is happening now is the drunkenness after the victory. In my opinion, Putin has always been afraid because of the things he had done, it is underestimated. He has feminine nature, he is weak (what a sexist thing to say!). Roughly speaking, Putin is not Stalin, he is not his reincarnation, he is not capable of cruel bloody repression out of fear for his power in the future. All his fake machismo, a demonstration of power over three girls, is a sign of weakness.

Wait, the repression is here, the crackdown is...

Feygin: But to a certain limit. As was correctly said, they want to rule like Stalin and live like Abramovich, and it is hard to combine those things. I am convinced that the revolution will happen at the top, they will get rid of him themselves at some moment when they realize his inadequacy and the danger he poses for their tasks.

What do you mean inadequacy?

Feygin: It is in nonsense that he is ready to risk everything. The nonsense called Pussy Riot.    

Lawyer for Putin

Imagine the power changes and the people who sit at the top now, suddenly find themselves on the defendant's bench, are you ready to defend them?

Polozov: At this moment I am not ready, because now the government operates from the position of power. If something happens, I do not rule out the possibility that I might defend them, because they will not be able to defend themselves alone in such a moment.

Feygin: No... I would not defend them, I have a heavier opinion. My mission is to protect the innocent and defend the freedoms, getting involved in political legislation is generally hard, and in the light of my life - it is just unbearable. But I will gladly, of course, judge them... and show humanism.

Volkova: For me it is hard to imagine a situation, where our current government is vulnerable. It has everything - power, money, opportunities, the strenght, the support of those who stand behind it. Under such circumstances to imagine that someone is poor, naked and pursued by the opposition that we are now defending, is just impossible. But ff suddenly the wind changes and the Hague Tribunals cries out, this is not so impossible. However, they will always find lawyers, and they can afford lawyers whom they can trust. Not us.

(EngPussyRiotYou may use this material with the reference to the source - http://eng-pussy-riot.livejournal.com)

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EngPussyRiot - collective of media activists is conducting informational support to the group Pussy Riot in English. Headquartered EngPussyRiot is in Russia, but the project involves people from all over the world. Read more...

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Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
EngPussy Riot
Aug. 14th, 2012 01:33 pm (UTC)
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(Anonymous)
Aug. 14th, 2012 03:08 pm (UTC)
Copyright infringement
Hi, me again.
Bosgeus

I was browsing video's on the web, and saw that the Pussriot from Youtube where stolen and used in many media productions. If such a thing was done to my video's, would sue my government, or their media companies big time. For many millions of Rubles. And with such a prize, Lawyers, could be made interested in getting a part of this money. The case here is, that these media productions from Pussriot are stolen, used without consent, and even are being used to harm the creators of these video's. Where they where stolen from.

If lawyers visiting here get interested, I would also want to point out, that Youtube has a legal system themselves, because the Copyright use of Youtube is based on the agreement that any one makes with Youtube, to upload video's. And therefor, such a law suit against certain Russian media could be done from abroad.

Some media from Russia did a respectful quote from the Pussriot Youtube account. Please don't sue the friends. The ones that are stealing, are misusing the material in a terrible manner. While harming the producers of these movies, with the intend to harm.

At any case, I put - in my complaint here.
And a warning to those who try and tried to do the same thing to me.

If lawyers need a precedent for such a case, I know of several in the USA. For example the murder of David Koresh and his friends and family in Waco 1993 by this Body Count reputation geek Bill Clinton. There are already efforts made to arrest former US President Bill Clinton, but unfortunately this defense team was taken out by airplane crash. If Lawyers, or any one else is interested in more information, search for "Clinton Body Count" on line, or watch the film "Clinton Chronicles".
Getting a bit off topic here...

Well, I was shocked to read, that the Pussy Riot case is regarded as political.
I had the impression it was about Art, Copyrights, and Theological issues.
If my comment is bothering the court case, or endangering the Lawyers, please delete it.
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EngPussyRiot - collective of media activists is conducting informational support to the group Pussy Riot in English. Headquartered EngPussyRiot is in Russia, but the project involves people from all over the world. Read more...

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