Pussy Riot in Red Square, Moscow, 2012
Photo: © Pussy Riot Live Journal
Until a few weeks ago, it seemed that – despite a lack of a record label, and indeed, much music to put on one even if they had – Moscow’s Pussy Riot was doing just fine. The all-female masked punk band had an audience which, thanks to social media, stretched far beyond its Russian homeland.
For many Russians disillusioned with the mix of political systemic corruption, a barely fettered capitalism and a cultural conservatism, the band’s emphasis on shaking things up was, well, interesting, especially in the run-up to march’s presidential election. Songs such as ‘[Vladimir] Putin’s Pissed Himself!’ and flash gigs in or around major Moscow sites (Red Square, churches and the city’s subways) got the band noticed. A cross between the Guerrilla Girls and the Sex Pistols, Pussy Riot were irreverent, DayGlo and a welcome addition to the annals of agitprop. To make the headlines even more salacious, the Russian Orthodox church had denounced them as sinners.
But then things became seriously difficult for the Rioters – referred to as the ‘Poosis’ in Russian following a performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on 21 February. A rough and ready video shows the balaclava-ed Poosis performing their ‘punk prayer’. Using the form of the Russian Orthodox liturgy, the Virgin Mary was beseeched to ‘chase Putin out’. At least three women – first Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, and subsequently Irina Loktina – were arrested. Facing charges relating to hooliganism and blasphemy, the three are now in detention until a hearing on 24 April.
Supporters of the Poosis, ranging from ordinary anti-Putin demonstrators to art groups, are meanwhile rallying help, with English-language websites set up to funnel international help. A Party Riot Bus is scheduled to circle Moscow’s Garden Ring on 31 March, with news briefings and performances planned. Aboard the bus Pussy Riot supporters will hold a news conference, an art display and several performances.
Free Pussy Riot! http://freepussyriot.org/
Pussy Riot’s YouTube page http://www.youtube.com/user/PussRiot/videos
Pussy Riot’s Journal (Russian/English) http://pussy-riot.livejournal.com/
Also of interest
Art Leaks http://art-leaks.org
Zhir Artists’ Collective (scroll down for English) http://zhiruzhir.ru/post/3259