Natalia Pelevine – Protesting for Democracy


Hello friends, colleagues, lovely to be here my first time in Oslo. Lovely to be in a theater, I’m a playwright as well as political activist, so it’s especially endearing, especially pleasant to be here in this beautiful, beautiful space. I’ll be very brief. I’ll just tell you a little of my background story, which I think is quite unique for someone who is a Russian political activist. The fact is that I moved to England at the age of 12. We moved permanently, I moved with my family. My father signed a contract with an international organization. That was pretty much the tail end of the Soviet era, and it wasn’t easy to fit in, but I tried, I did my best. While I was adapting to the new democratic ways of this new life, I still very much followed, was very much aware of what was going on in Russia. Russia being such a dynamic place politically. Even though I was still very young at the time. How time flies. Towards the end of my uni years, I started getting engaged a bit more, and I started researching this terrible event, which you might have heard of, the Moscow theatre siege, which resulted in 130 people being gassed by their own government. The more I was researching that, the more I was getting involved with Russian political activists, in Russia and abroad. That was the first real step in my own personal political activism, but of course more followed, as it often happens. More recently I’ve been involved in lobbying the Magnitsky Act , which is something, again, you might have heard of. It’s a terrible story where a Russian lawyer died in custody. Because he was a whistleblower on a terrible corruption scandal within the government, within the Russian Ministry of the Interior, where they pretty much stole US $230 million dollars. Since then, I guess because I’ve gained the trust of some people, I’ve been receiving some other information on high up officials, and I’ve become a bit more of a whistleblower very recently, I don’t know if I like the word whistleblower, but for lack of an alternative. On a case where Russian deputy prime minister Igor Sechin took a bribe from the richest man in Russia called Alisher Usmanov. And right now I’m also trying to get other countries, because those guys, Alisher Usmanov for instance, he is a resident of the UK. He doesn’t live in Russia, he just robs Russia and goes to spend money elsewhere, as many of them do unfortunately. And we’re trying to get the support of organizations such as FBI, SFO, in Britain and America and other countries as well. Because I personally believe those people need to be held accountable, and I will do absolutely everything in my power to be sure they are held accountable. In terms of the protests that started escalating just a few years back, living in New York already by that point, I organized an NGO and we started organizing protests in support of the opposition, in support of the protests that were taking place in Russia. Because you know there were so many people that were getting involved in that, we organized the NGO and once again, our NGO, even as a small one, it takes care of, sort of helps people with those who face the major issues in current Russia: that of the judicial system, which pretty much doesn’t work at all. If someone wants to frame you, if somebody wants to send you to jail because they don’t like you, because they want your business, because you’re sleeping with their wife, they will do so. They will do so by just bribing the judge. We get a lot of those cases, we try to help as much as possible. And a few months ago, I made a bit of a difficult decision for myself. I decided to move back to Russia during this very hard time, very important time. And on the ground do what I can, participate as much as I can, and that’s what I’ve been doing. Since I moved back to Moscow, I’ve been detained on a number of occasions, which is never exactly pleasant because those cells where they put you, they don’t give you water, they often don’t let you sit down, it’s not fun. But it’s something you have to go through if you really are serious about this movement against Putin’s Russia. I’m very much sleep deprived even now, because right before I came to this wonderful city, in the previous 48 hours I was almost detained twice. The first time was when we were trying to organize a continuation of a protest, that some of the pictures you saw of, later that evening, and we a group of us were detained. I was actually rescued by a Wall Street Journal journalist, because he started talking to me in English, and the police freaked out. And they just decided to leave me alone. My friends however were detained. Then the following day literally I was detained just for wearing this white ribbon
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that you see my friend Dennis wearing, and myself, which is a symbol of this protest movement, of the anti-Putin movement. I do believe that we have a strong opposition, it doesn’t matter what the numbers are. I do believe that we have a great chance at bringing Russia to where it should be, to making it a democratic, friendly, and prosperous place. No matter how many arrests, no matter how many threats, we shall not yield; we shall not go quietly into the night. We shall fight, and we will overcome. I thank you very much.

Maurice Vega

4 Responses

  1. So if you moved to England why do you speak with an American accent? This makes you a fake like Stephen Hawking

  2. Engalnd has the English accent, with its varying strains I agree, but at no point does it slip into the American accent. So prove you grew up in England as I feel you are a fake and will push this forward using the internet as MY TOOL

  3. I guess she's not only a whore of the US government, but of Kasyanov too. Hahaha. What a worthless piece of trash.

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