#6 2012

“We should be free rather than behind bars"

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's closing statement

The Russian state is tightening its grip over the church, the media and the courts. Russia claims to be a democracy, but the sentence against the three members of the punk band Pussy Riot could not possibly take place in a democracy. Here we publish an extract from Nadezhda Tolokonnikovas defence speech from the trial on August 8—a speech that already is considered a classic rhetoric achievement.

Journalists in prison: A survival manual

In the last few months, the repression in Belarus has tightened even more. Iryna Chalip, correspondent in Belarus for the Russian newspaper Novaja Gazeta, tells us about the recent attacks on freedom of speech by the secret police

It is not far between Stockholm and Minsk

The diplomatic crisis between Belarus and Sweden goes much deeper than to the recent teddy bear incident”. The poet and former president candidate Uladzimir Njakljajeu, who was imprisoned after the 2010 demonstrations,

The library in the torture centre

Books and the written word have always invoked fear in dictatorial regimes. Martin Ezpeleta visits the Library of Forbidden Books in the Argentinian city Córdoba, and reminds us of one of the military regimes greatest fears

Modern Persian lyric

Day by day, the censorship in Iran becomes stricter. The young Iranian poet Leili Galehdaran has therefore chosen to send her third collection, Sinior to the Swedish-located publisher Baran. If she had tried to get it

The ICORN-relay: Sedigheh Vasmaghi

In April the Swedish city of Uppsala received a new ICORN writer: the Iranian lawyer and poet Sedigheh Vasmaghi. After the election in 2009, she took part of the protest movement. She published poems and articles where she

The bridge

It is way too early to talk about the “results” of the revolution in Egypt. Some commentators worry about that everything will remain the way it was, but the Egyptian writer Somaya Ramadan sees a slow change of the life in

“Freedom of speech is defended through tenacity and endurance, not by one-off actions”

The vociferous international defence of Russian punk band Pussy Riot was encouraging to see while it lasted. The absurdity of the trial was obvious to most. One thing that we must remember is that behind the members of the band, and the case against them, is a much larger collection of political opponents and dissidents who are suffering ever-harsher repression in Putin’s Russia; and we must also remember that this repression remains even when the media dust has settled and global opinion has turned its attention onto some other worthy cause. In this issue, we’re publishing an extract from Pussy Riot’s defence speech, a text that has already been called one of the most important rhetorical manifestations of the freedom of speech in modern Russia.

The freedom of speech is defended through tenacity and endurance, not by one-off actions, no matter how powerful they are as statements and demonstrations. This issue of the Dissident Blog, which has now reached its sixth edition, therefore returns to some of the areas in which such basic rights are severely tested. We’ll listen to some voices from Sweden’s near-neighbour Belarus talking about the regime’s renewed attacks on press freedoms, something that also coincides with the diplomatic crisis that led to the expulsion of Swedish ambassador Stefan Eriksson. Poet and opposition politician Uladzimir Njakjajeu publishes an open letter to Eriksson, and journalist Iryna Chalip writes on the ramifications of the crackdown for professional journalists. Another place where the struggle for democracy has entered a more mundane phase—thus calling for persistence and patience—is Egypt. Was it all back to normal after the days and nights at Tahrir Square? No, writes Egyptian author Somaya Ramadan. The shoots of democracy are growing in the everyday gatherings along the banks of the Nile. And what was the fascist junta in Argentina most afraid of? Children’s books, writes journalist Martin Ezpeleta in his discourse on forbidden libraries. Look around you at all the humble objects and sceneries and listen to what people are saying. It’s here that you will—or won’t—find democracy, not just in the great revolutions.