Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yuri Andrukhovych receive the Hannah-Arendt-Prize 2014

The Hannah-Arendt-Prize for Political Thought, which is awarded by the City of Bremen and the Heinrich Böll Foundation, is endowed with 10,000 Euro in 2014.

The Prize is awarded to people who in their thought and deeds courageously accept the challenge of public intervention. Former award recipients include the current German President Joachim Gauck, Julia Kristeva, and Timothy Snyder. The Prize will be presented to the recipients on the 5th December 2014 at the Bremen Town Hall.

Rationale of the Jury

The Jury of the Hannah-Arendt-Prize for Political Thought has decided to split this year’s Prize in half. One half will be awarded to the Ukrainian poet, essayist, novelist, translator and theatre director Jury Andruchowytsch. The other half will be awarded to the Russian performance artists Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, (formerly members of “Pussy Riot”).

The prize winners live and work in the post-imperial space of the dissolved Soviet Union. They have turned against the attempt to re-establish old power relations and abolish political freedoms in Ukraine and Russia. Evidently, conditions are different in the independent country of Ukraine than they are in Russia, which under Putin is following in the footsteps of the former tsarist and Soviet violent regimes.
For years, Yuri Andrukhovych has been an important literary voice of Ukraine’s democratic movement that gave way to the 2004 “Orange Revolution”. In 2014, after the violent destruction of civil protest against President Yanukovych’s refusal to sign the lengthily negotiated association agreement with the EU, the movement lead yet again to an occupation of Maidan square lasting several months.

Andrukhovych is a writer in the tradition of public intervention. In his books, he portrays the diverse cultures in Central Europe. This year, a text collection on the situation in Ukraine edited by Andrukhovych was published. By awarding the Hannah-Arendt-Prize to Andrukhovych, the Jury also wants to express their respect for the activists seeking an independent and democratic Ukraine. The Prize shall encourage them, as their fight for freedom is not yet over.

At the height of the demonstrations against the re-election of President Putin, the performance artists of Pussy Riot carried the protest to the centre of the new Russian power structures. With their punk prayer performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour they called on Maria the Mother of God for feminist support in fighting the alliance between the Orthodox Church and the Kremlin. The State reacted immediately: conviction, imprisonment and forced labour.

In the process, the members of the protest group defended themselves courageously. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina continued their resistance while in prison. After their release, they took on the task of informing the public about the system of Russian penal camps and of organising solidarity for the imprisoned. Together with these courageous performance artists, the Jury wants to appreciate all those who continue to resist the reactionary turn in Russia despite their persecution.

The Hannah-Arendt-Prize for Political Thought wants to encourage thought leading to political action. The connection of political thought and political acts is public speech. We consider the performance art of Pussy Riot as public speech, just like the essays, books and novels of Yury Andrukhovych. We therefore believe it is a good idea to award this year’s prize jointly to the Ukrainian writer and the Russian performance artists. In the view of the jury, they build on the life and work of Hannah Arendt.

About the awardees

Nadezhda Andreyevna Tolokonnikova, (7th November 1989) comes from Siberia and studied philosophy in Moscow, where she met her later husband  Pyotr Verzilov. Together, they participated in founding the artist group “Voina” (war), who provoked politically with their street art and became known through their protest performances.

Maria Vladimirovna Alyokhina (6th June 1988) studied journalism in Moscow and supported environmental projects as well as mentally ill children.

Yuri Andrukhovych (13th March 1960) is a writer, poet, essayist, perfrmance artist and translator. He is one of the most important cultural and intellectual voices in Ukraine. Andrukhovych’s writings are internationally translated and published.

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  • Prof. Antonia Grunenberg
  • Peter Rüdel
  • Ole Sören Schulz
  • Prof. Eva Senghaas-Knobloch


  • Prof. Antonia Grunenberg (Berlin/Oldenburg)
  • Prof. Otto Kallscheuer (Sassari/Osnabrück)
  • Marie Luise Knott (Berlin)
  • Dr. Willfried Maier (Hamburg)
  • Prof. Karol Sauerland (Warsaw)
  • Joscha Schmierer (Berlin)
  • Prof. Christina Thürmer-Rohr (Berlin)