Ten Things You Should Know About Pussy Riot

Free Pussy Riot! Sounds like a headline for a Craigslist ad, right? Not quite. It’s actually a call to action in support of a feminist, post-punk band from Russia, aptly named Pussy Riot. Referring to them as a “punk band” is kind of an understatement. They’re more of a political movement.

Image of Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot by Igor Mukhin
Photo by Igor Mukhin

Recently, Pussy Riot made headlines across the globe when their trial for “hooliganism” began in late July, the charges against three of their members resulting from an impromptu performance in the middle of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. They recorded the performance and used it as a music video for the song which is available on YouTube.

Here are ten things you should know about Pussy Riot:

  1. The three members who were detained are: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a 22-year-old philosophy student and mother; Maria Alyokhina, 24, also a student (journalism) and mother; Yekaterina Samutsevich, a 30-year old computer programmer.
  2. They could be sentenced to seven years in prison if found guilty. Sentencing is scheduled for August 17th.
  3. Amnesty International has declared them to be prisoners of conscience and the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners (SPP) considers them political prisoners.
  4. The group was formed in late 2011 and had already been arrested for a protest performance at the Red Square by the end of January 2012.
  5. Their signature look consists of brightly-colored balaclavas, dresses, and tights which they wear even when performing outdoors in freezing cold temps.
  6. Pussy Riot’s membership is constantly changing, having as many as 15 members and as few as three.
  7. Their list of music influences include ’80s punk bands like Cockney Rejects and Sham 69 and ’90s Riot Grrl groups like Bikini Kill.
  8. Pussy Riot lyrics are political and feminist in nature, most of them aiming to criticize and ridicule Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  9. Pussy Riot supporters include Icelandic pop star Björk, Yoko Ono, Corinne Bailey Rae, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Peter Gabriel, Stephen Fry, Peaches, Die Antwoord, and Madonna who appeared onstage at her concert in Moscow wearing a balaclava and “Pussy Riot” written across her back.
  10. Mayor of Reykjavík, Jón Gnarr Kristinsson, recently showed his support for Pussy Riot by donning a pink dress and a balaclava during a Pride parade in Iceland.

Want to join the global protest and show your support? Check the Free Pussy Riot website.

UPDATE: The members of Pussy Riot have been found guilty and have been sentenced to two years in prison. via NPR

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April

If I had a dollar for every time I got distracted, I wish I had some ice cream.

9 thoughts on “Ten Things You Should Know About Pussy Riot”

  1. Livestream here (video, and audio in Russian only) http://reuters.livestation.com/demo

    The verdict is guilty but the sentence has yet to be read out

    Liveblog here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/aug/17/pussy-riot-trial-verdict-live

    1. If I remember correctly, the prosecutor is asking for 3 years rather than the full 7 but I’m not sure how likely it is that they’ll be found guilty. Hopefully all of this worldwide attention will send Russia a message about freedom of expression.

    2. From what I’ve read, it’s highly unlikely they’ll be acquitted – it hardly ever happens in Russian courts.

      In 92 per cent of the 178 cases overseen by Judge Syrova, the defendants have been found guilty.

      Granted, I’m reading that in the UK and Irish press, so they could be wrong, but I’m expecting a guilty verdict. After that, the best they could hope for is a short sentence.

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