Pussy Riot Members Launch Their Own News Service

Pussy Riot Members Launch Their Own News Service
After suing the Russian government and signing up to appear on House of Cards, Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina have revealed that their post-imprisonment plans now also include starting up an independent news service in their native Russia. Their MediaZona went live earlier today (September 4).

A press release for the political online publication notes that coverage will be focused on "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."

Acting as editor-in-chief is noted Russian political journalist Sergey Smirnov, with other contributors including Elena Shmaraeva (Gazeta.ru, TvRain), Egor Skovoroda (Bolshoi Gorod, Russkaya Planeta, The New Times), and Maria Klimova (Polit.ru, Russkaya Planeta). Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina will also be writing for MediaZona.

A statement from the pair explains that they founded MediaZona in order to combat the Kremlin's "clampdown" on independent media, a blackout they say was instigated by Russian President Vladimir Putin's authorities.

"Since our release from prison six months ago we've felt that Russian media are no longer able to cover what is going on," Tolokonnikova explained. "Because of the heavy censorship by authorities there is no space for anything in the media that criticizes 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."

You can check out their coverage so far over here.

Also, below you will find the message Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina shared on Facebook today announcing MediaZona.

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.