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Even Pussy Riot Fears Russia’s New Internet Crackdown

Pussy Riot activists attend Roskilde Festival, 4 July 2014, by Jacob Crawfurd, Demotix.

Pussy Riot activist Nadezhda Tolokonnikova attends Roskilde Festival, 4 July 2014, by Jacob Crawfurd, Demotix.

Many have wondered how Russian bloggers will respond to the country’s recent curbs on Internet freedom. With millions of people using the RuNet, there’s no simple way to describe the blogosphere’s reaction. There was also no way to predict that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, the former Pussy Riot political prisoner, would limit her online activism to avoid being targeted by the Attorney General.

Since becoming an international celebrity, thanks to a politicized trial that landed her behind bars for almost two years, Tolokonnikova has been Russia’s most iconic rebel. Her rebellion seems to have its limits.

Today, she wrote online about a new public event hosted by her post-Pussy Riot group—the far less sexily named “Zone of Rights.” On Facebook, Tolokonnikova announced that Zone is hosting a “marathon teach-in” about Russia's prison system, taking place somewhere in Moscow tomorrow. To find out specifically where the event is happening, she invites you to email the group for the details.

RuNet Echo asked Tolokonnikova why she refrained from publishing the event’s location. She responded in Russian and English.

On Facebook, Tolokonnikova wrote:

Не тот год в России, чтобы в открытую выкладывать адрес.

It’s not the best year in Russia to be writing addresses in the open.

On Twitter, she added:

Tolokonnikova’s fears are likely justified. In the past month, police ordered one of Russia’s most popular news websites to delete an interview with an activist in Siberia, because he discussed details about an unsanctioned rally. Federal censors have already blocked several other websites, including one of the country’s most prominent political blogs, because of materials discussing unsanctioned demonstrations. Indeed, the Russian government is able to block websites, and entitled to initiate extremism investigations, without any court oversight, thanks to a law that passed earlier this year.

Tolokonnikova says she is curtailing her online outreach in order to protect Zone’s offices, but she does appear to have tweeted that the teach-in will take place at the Moscow Contemporary Art Center “Vinzavod.”

Come visit us and we'll explain everything! A whole collection of information about the prison system. On Saturday and Sunday at 12pm, we'll be at Vinzavod. Come by, okay?

When RuNet Echo asked why she announced the event’s location on Twitter but not Facebook, Tolokonnikova did not respond.

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