Behind Bars in Moscow
Kira Yarmysh and Jette F. Christensen
What is daily life like for young Russians critical of Putin’s regime?
Kira Yarmysh is best known in Russia as a PR advisor to opposition politician Alexei Navalny. When her literary debut Incredible Events in Women’s Cell # 3 was first published in Russia last year, it was quickly labeled “homosexual propaganda” by the authorities, due to its depictions of same-sex love. With this novel, Yarmysh provides insight into a modern, contrast-filled Russia.
The novel follows Anya Romanova, who is arrested during a demonstration against corruption, and sentenced to ten days in jail. That is how she ends up in cell number 3, together with five other, vastly different women, among them the Putin-admiring Instagram model-look alike Maya, who lives off of filthy rich sugar daddies, the poor alcoholic Irka and the cheeky Katya.
With humor and warmth, the novel portrays daily life in the cell – with its lacking hot water and bed sheets made of paper – along with the conversations between the female prisoners. Through flashbacks to Anya’s past and her interactions with her five cell mates, we are given a multifaceted view into the lives of young Russian women today. Issues such as class and clashing values, gender and sexuality, corruption and political oppression all appear through the novel.
Yarmysh is no stranger to the inside of Russian cells herself, having been arrested at several demonstrations. She has stated that the novel is based on personal experience.
At the House of Literature, Yarmysh is joined on stage by Jette F. Christensen. Christensen is a social scientist and former member of parliament, with more than ten years’ experience on the foreign affairs and defence committee. Today, she is vice president of the council for the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
The conversation will be in English.