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Planned Pussy Riot Book Creates Controversy in Russia

Pussy Riot - A Controversy in Russia and Around the Globe
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A Moscow publisher is planning to release a book in the names of the members of the controversial feminist punk rock band without their permission.

MOSCOW – A new controversy has emerged involving Russian band Pussy Riot.

A publisher here is planning to bring out a book billed as having been written by three members of the controversial female punk band. However, it has emerged that it was using their names and blog posts without appropriate permissions.

Earlier this week, three Russian online book stores announced pre-orders for the book Pussy Riot: Chto Eto Bylo (Pussy Riot: What Was It?). The book is published by the Moscow-based publisher Algoritm under the names of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich.

Two of them are currently serving two-year sentences for Pussy Riot’s controversial performance at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral last February, while Samutsevich was released last month. The band had performed a "punk prayer" against Russian president Vladimir Putin and were convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred."

The Pussy Riot members said they had nothing to do with the book, saying it is simply a compilation of various interviews with the feminist punk rockers and their blog posts.

Later, the publisher admitted that it put together the book without appropriate permissions. “The texts collected in that book were taken from public sources, but we confirm that neither Tolokonnikova, nor Samutsevich, nor Alyokhina, nor their representatives gave us permission for publication,” Sergei Nikolayev, Algoritm’s general director, said in a statement on the publisher’s web site, quoted by wire service RIA Novosti. Later, the statement was taken off the web site.

It is not clear when exactly the book is scheduled to hit stores and if lawsuits could block its distribution. So far, at least one journalist whose text was used in the book she was going to sue the publisher. Zoya Svetova, a reporter for the New Times magazine, said she would file a lawsuit for the unauthorized use of her interview with Samutsevich, published last August.

Meanwhile, Russian daily Kommersant reported that Pussy Riot's former lawyers were allegedly negotiating with the publisher about the book, but the deal eventually fell through. The report also suggested that there could be an out-of-court settlement between the publisher and the band.

“The publisher apologized and said it was ready to take steps for resolving the situation to avoid litigation,” Samutsevich’s lawyer was quoted as saying. “But a decision about further action should come from the Pussy Riot members.”