Accessibility links

Lost In Translation: Russian TV Misquotes French Singer On Pussy Riot


French singer Mireille Mathieu had been criticized for reportedly describing Pussy Riot as "deranged."

French singer Mireille Mathieu had been criticized for reportedly describing Pussy Riot as "deranged."

A Russian television channel has apologized to French singer Mireille Mathieu for severely distorting her remarks on the Pussy Riot case.

The state-run TV-Tsentr on August 30 aired an interview with Mathieu in which she appears to slam Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot for performing an anti-Kremlin song in Moscow's largest cathedral.

Three members of the group were sentenced last month to two years in prison for the performance.

In the Russian voiceover of the interview, Mathieu, who enjoys enduring popularity in Russia, condemns the Pussy Riot trio in strong terms.

"I think they are deranged and I condemn their action," is how the Russian TV voiceover translated her words from French. "A church is not the place for such actions. A church has always been and will remain a place where people come to see the light, where they come for the purification of the soul. It is a sacred place that needs to be respected, especially Russian churches, where one feels so much fervor and zeal."

Supporters of Pussy Riot reacted angrily to Mathieu's comments.

Her remarks also drew a barrage a criticism from the French press, which has been mostly sympathetic to the plight of the three women.

The trouble is that Mathieu never called Pussy Riot "deranged."

In fact, the singer called for clemency toward the jailed women in her interview -- a detail TV-Tsentr's journalists left out of their report.

"I think these young women [of Pussy Riot] were a bit mindless to sing in a church" is what Mathieu actually said. "It's not an appropriate place. There are other ways to demonstrate. A church is a place of contemplation and respect. Here in Russia it's like a sacrilege. There is such fervor in churches here. But as a women, an artist, and a Christian, I wish for clemency [for the Pussy Riot members]."

The channel's deputy director, Vyacheslav Mostovoi, said the channel's leadership was "simply in shock" and pledged the author of the interview would be fined and banned from broadcasting.

-- Claire Bigg

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

Show comments

XS
SM
MD
LG