Pussy Riot: A Timeline

Just last week, three alleged members of the Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot were denied bail when a judge extended their incarceration until June.

This case has been getting some press coverage in the U.S., but not a ton, so I thought it seemed like a good time to lay out exactly what’s been going on.

Image from Vice.com.

Pussy Riot is a politically-charged feminist punk rock collective, made of approximately 10 different performers and another 15 technical members who document their actions on video and post them online. They are known for wearing brightly-colored dresses and tights coupled with knit balaclavas that hide their identities (they also use pseudonyms). Musically, they draw influence from old punk and Oi! bands like Sham 69 and Cockney Rejects, as well as American Riot Grrrl acts like Bikini Kill. Currently, three members of the band are in jail on charges of “hooliganism” relating to a protest in February. If convicted, they could face 7 years behind bars.

But let’s look at this chronologically.

September 2011: Vladimir Putin announces he will once again run for President of Russia. Pussy Riot forms in response, because, as band member Serafina told Vice:

“We realized that this country needs a militant, punk-feminist, street band that will rip through Moscow’s streets and squares, mobilize public energy against the evil crooks of the Putinist junta and enrich the Russian cultural and political opposition with themes that are important to us: gender and LGBT rights, problems of masculine conformity, absence of a daring political messages on the musical and art scenes, and the domination of males in all areas of public discourse.”

January 2012: Pussy Riot plays “Revolt in Russia” at the famous Red Square. Eight members of the group were arrested but ultimately released.

February 21, 2012: The group stages their now-famous “punk prayer” protest at Christ the Savior cathedral in Moscow. The performance showed up on YouTube the same day.

Lyrics (translated to English):
(Chorus)

St. Maria, Virgin, Drive away Putin
Drive away! Drive away Putin!
(end chorus)

Black robe, golden epaulettes
All parishioners are crawling and bowing
The ghost of freedom is in heaven
Gay pride sent to Siberia in chains

The head of the KGB is their chief saint
Leads protesters to prison under escort
In order not to offend the Holy
Women have to give birth and to love

Holy shit, shit, Lord’s shit!
Holy shit, shit, Lord’s shit!

(Chorus)
St. Maria, Virgin, become a feminist
Become a feminist, Become a feminist
(end chorus)

Church praises the rotten dictators
The cross-bearer procession of black limousines
In school you are going to meet with a teacher-preacher
Go to class – bring him money!

Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin
Bitch, you better believe in God
Belt of the Virgin is no substitute for mass-meetings
In protest of our Ever-Virgin Mary!

(Chorus)
St. Maria, Virgin, Drive away Putin
Drive away! Drive away Putin!
(end chorus)

February 22, 2012: The Russian Orthodox Church begins a criminal investigation against the band. Members of the church post the names of band members online, calling them “blasphemous women” and the FSB Special Department on Terrorism takes the case.

March 4, 2012: Putin, unsurprisingly, wins the presidential election. Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, both activists and alleged members of Pussy Riot, are arrested. Both women go on a hunger strike, in addition to exercising their constitutional right to silence.

March 14, 2012: First appeal attempt is rejected.

March 15, 2012: Ekaterina Samutsevic is arrested and also exercises her right to silence. The women are charged with “hooliganism.”

March 19, 2012: We learn that the three women are under 24-hour video surveillance, which is illegal. Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova, who both have children, are threatened with having their parental rights taken away.

March 28, 2012: Samutsevich’s appeal is rejected. It is reported that the family of Maria Alyokhina, including her young son, are receiving death threats.

April 5, 2012: It’s reported that Amnesty International is calling for Pussy Riot’s release.

April 11, 2012: Russian rights ombudsman calls for the three women to be released.

April 19, 2012: A judge rejects the trio’s request for bail and release, extending their custody until June 24. Protesters supporting the band were arrested but have since been released.

The future: Who knows? There are protests planned all over the world over the next week or so, and you can keep track of the movement at the Free Pussy Riot website, or on Facebook.

Information for this timeline comes mainly from Vice, Wikipedia, and Free Pussy Riot. I also recommend reading Pussy Riot and free speech: How Russian capitalism and religion are attacking dissent.

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3 Comments Pussy Riot: A Timeline

  1. Avatar of [E] pileofmonkeys[E] pileofmonkeys

    This is fascinating to me, not least because of the echos of Soviet-era silence of dissent that’s inherent in the arrests. I’m interested to see how the story will play out, especially with global attention increasing.

    1. Avatar of [E] Liza[E] Liza

      I’m also interested and anticipating what will happen. There’s a lot of international outcry now, so my fear is that they’ll use it to make an example of them. I’d rather it result in their release, but you never know.

      1. Avatar of [E] pileofmonkeys[E] pileofmonkeys

        Yeah, but I think that international scrutiny these days plays a fairly important role in bringing certain things to light that even a generation ago would have been swept under the carpet. Knowing that the global community is watching and holding you responsible for your actions can certainly be a big infulence in decisions made.

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