“I believe that in Italy there is less freedom than what people claim” complains Jorit, the street artist at the center of the controversy after his participation in the International Youth Forum in Sochi, complete with selfies with Vladimir Putin . At Ansa, Ciro Cerullo is angry at the “majority of the press” who attacked him “as soon as the nerves of power, NATO, the arms industries and hawkish foreign policy are touched.” Attacks that the 33-year-old Neapolitan is wary of: “It almost seems like there is a direction behind it.” Already on Instagram, Jorit had tried to defend himself by explaining that his participation in the event in Russia was “consistent with the path of artistic activism that I have been pursuing for years”. All this to “spread a message of peace”, but far from him is the idea of ​​“praising Putin”.

The impression on Putin

He says that all the criticism he has received does not hurt him: “It is not a personal matter – he assures – For me, the fight for peace is more important than myself” . He asked Putin for a selfie to demonstrate to the West “that he is human”. And the impression that Cerullo had seemed to confirm his expectations: “I imagined him much colder, but on the contrary, he patiently answered dozens and dozens of questions from young people from all over the world.” Jorit, however, remains convinced that he should not pass judgment on the head of the Kremlin: “It is not me who should judge Putin, he is the President of the Russian Federation and we must talk to each other to achieve peace .” To those who suggest dedicating one of his murals to dissident victims of the Russian regime, the street artist explains that there is much more to worry about: “The bad faith is obvious: while the dissidents who lend themselves to “our” narrative are glorified, in our West Assange rots in prison and no one knows Andrea Rocchelli or Gonzalo Lira. I am a Westerner – he explains – and I must unmask Western power. Being an anti-Russian activist in the West is too easy, there is a queue.”

The EU sanctions proposal

For Jorit, the vice-president of the European Parliament, Pina Picierno, had called for European Union sanctions to be applied. And she appealed to the various Italian public organizations to stop financing Jorit's works. “They do the same things they say they want to fight,” replies the street artist. “Are you saying that institutions don’t want to work with me? But it may not be clear that it's me who doesn't want to work with institutions that don't give me freedom (I've never worked there). But then the Italian institutions? But do we realize that Italy is a small state in decline in a huge world?

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