Americans talk about resistance, but would we be willing to put our lives on the line for that show of resistance? That’s what it looks like for protest punk/art collective Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova, whose very appearance on American television could lead to her imprisonment in Russia. Her bravery and determination to resist the Putin regime makes our resistance pale by comparison. She’s seen what happens when the media becomes all state-controlled and has a warning that she felt was worth risking her life to share with us.
Founding member, Nadya appeared with Lawrence O’Donnell to talk about why she sees Trump paralleling Vladimir Putin.
“…democracy is being eroded by authoritarian and pro-authoritarian leaders like Putin and Donald Trump,” said Nadya Tolokonnikova.
She shared her unique perspective on Trump, who has made Putin the one person in the world he refuses to criticize.
“You know they are both eroding our institutions and our job here is to protect those institutions. I think they make us forget that citizenship is not just using things the government is giving to you, but giving back to your government, protecting those institutions like democracy, for example,” said Nadya. “They both hate critics, and they have the same attitude to media, which is concerning to me, and I’ve seen how badly it can turn. I’ve seen it in front of my eyes in the last seventeen years, and I hear from Donald Trump the same words about media that Putin was using for seventeen years.”
Vladimir Putin used the same lines about “fake news” that Nadya now sees Trump using daily. She says that, although Trump believes that Putin has a liking for him, it’s not that at all. Putin sees Trump as someone who can be exploited, and who has no real belief or respect for democracy.
“Donald Trump doesn’t have any real political beliefs. He’s really concerned with himself, with his fame and his wealth. And that’s perfectly understandable for Putin as KGB agent. He knows how to deal with people who are easy to understand, or easy to bribe,” said Nadya.
Alarmingly, Nadya is seeing in Trump the beginnings of how free speech was taken away in a flash in Russia. After Putin became subject to criticism in Russia, as a KGB agent, there were “arrests and occupation of leading independent media outlets,” followed by the arrest of political activists. Then all the media became nothing more than Russian propaganda.
“The worst thing about it. It’s paid by Russian taxpayers money. So we are paying for them telling us bullshit,” said Nadya of the Russian media today.
Nadya goes on to talk about the fact that she spent two years in prison for staging a performance in a Russian church, and how today, she is still living with the threat of returning to prison. She refuses to live in fear, rather having the determination to find what joy she can today, and every day. She shared that she has found inspiration in the political activism of the American 60’s, which led to the civil rights we enjoy today.
As the resistance in America is getting worn down by the daily Trump news, Nadya shares some insight into what can keep us going.
“I think we need to reconnect our every day lives with politics again and stop separating it because I believe the main problem right now about political activism -that people treat it as boring duty that they have to do part-time thing. [sic] I believe that if politics will become important and joyful part of your life, then things maybe will change.”
Just this week, Trump has called the Justice system a “laughing stock,” and claimed that “I’m the only one that matters” when asked about the future of the State Department. He attacks the mainstream media for holding him accountable and is beginning to create state-controlled propaganda with the Trump TV Network, which is called, “Real News Update.”
With all of these signs, and now with confirmation from Nadya Tolokonnikova, as one of the few people in Russia who is willing to speak out and keep on resisting no matter what, it’s time America realize the real threat that Trump poses to democracy and free speech right now. American citizens must keep up the resistance, and fight to protect our institutions.
See the interview with Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova and Lawrence O’Donnell below.
She also appears in an interview with Beats 1 Studio below, discussing Trump.
Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube