Nadya Tolokonnikova, founding member of Pussy Riot, joined CNN State of the Union Sunday and told Jake Tapper that it was incredible to see the ongoing protests in his native Russia, especially given the risk associated with speaking out against the invasion of Ukraine.
“One thing we need to understand about Russians who oppose the war in Ukraine is that the number of people who are against the war is actually much higher than what you can see on the streets” , said Tolokonnikova. “The price of participating in it today is getting higher and higher, especially since it has become incredibly dangerous over the past week and people are facing a prison sentence of up to 15 years, according to the new law, even for tweets, stories and social media posts. You can go to jail for up to 15 years, and by taking to the streets you are actually putting yourself in greater danger,” she said.
“Knowing this and seeing that thousands of people are still taking to the streets and being arrested shows that a lot of Russians are actually against the war,” she added.
Tolokonnikova told Tapper that following the government’s ban on Facebook and the shutdown of the last remaining independent TV channel, Russians have found alternative ways such as using a VPN to access accurate information about the invasion, but the cost involved makes it difficult for many to afford such technology.
The musician and activist also shared a harrowing story with CNN about a family friend beaten and detained during a recent protest and added that her friends in Russia are angry and terrified by the current circumstances.
“A week ago, the police beat up a friend of my daughter. My daughter is 14 years old, her friend is 14 years old too, and she went with her father to a demonstration against the war, and the police started beating her, and her father came to the policeman and said: “What ‘are you doing — she’s 14, don’t do that.’ Then, instead of beating the child, the policemen started beating the father and the father ended up in the police station for a few days, quite brutally beaten.Situations like that, unfortunately, happen quite often.