• Fri, Aug 17 2012

An Idiot’s Guide To The Pussy Riot Trial, Sentencing, And Growing Worldwide Movement

 

As you may have noticed, the whole world is going nuts today over a thing called “Pussy Riot.” “What’s a Pussy Riot?” you may ask (if you have not been reading the news for several months). “And furthermore, why should I care?” Pussy Riot is ALL OF US, and you should care for so many reasons. Here’s a quick primer to catch you up to speed on the most important punk band of our time.

What is Pussy Riot? 

Pussy Riot is a feminist punk rock musical collective from Russia. Their music deals with freedom of speech, human rights, and other issues that they think their country’s government needs to work on. Its members wear colorful dresses and tights and balaclava masks, which are both cool-looking and practical; the masks help conceal their identities. Their M.O. is to stage guerrilla-style performances of their songs at various locations around Moscow…or at least it was, until they got arrested.

What happened to Pussy Riot?

This past March, three of PR’s members were arrested after an impromptu performance of their minute-long song “Punk Prayer”—which includes the lyrics “Mother Mary, please drive Putin away”—in Christ Savior Cathedral, one of Moscow’s biggest churches. While they have made it clear in both the song’s original lyrics, and subsequent statements, that they meant their song as a protest against President Vladimir Putin, and not the religion of their fellow citizens, they were charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.” In the ensuing trial, the prosecution (which originally sought a sentence of seven years in prison) focused on bringing Russian Orthodox witnesses to testify about how traumatized and offended they were by the performance. Some of the witnesses were not even present in the church on that day.

Earlier today, Judge Marina Sirovaya made the group’s members stand while she read a two and a half hour long verdict recapping the evidence against them. Each of the women in custody—Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29—was sentenced to two years in prison.

What does Vladimir Putin have to say for himself? 

In a statement many believed was directed towards his economic allies in the west, Putin has said he did not want the women to be punished “too harshly.” This is ironic, because Pussy Riot’s lawyers have reason to believe the whole trial was ordered by Putin himself because the women dared to question his increasingly fascist grip on power. Already condemned by Amnesty International and the US State Department, the verdict has done much to damage Putin’s reputation in the eyes of the world.

What can be done about it?

Unfortunately, short of breaking them out of jail, there’s not much that can be done to free Pussy Riot from the clutches of the Russian prison system. But that doesn’t mean we can’t show our support! MadonnaPaul McCartneyBjorkChloe Sevigny, and Kathleen Hanna have all made statements in support of Pussy Riot, and electro-punk superstar Peaches made this awesome music video:

Protests are currently happening all over the world, so visit FreePussyRiot.org if you want to get involved!

Why should we all care what happens to Pussy Riot?

We should care what happens to Pussy Riot because if it’s possible for the Russian government to do this to them, it’s possible for them to do it to anyone. And the issue is in no way confined to Russia. Judging from the police’s insanely violent and inappropriate reactions to movements like Occupy Wall Street, we have a long way to go until we have real freedom of speech in America, too. Just because you don’t agree with what someone is saying, or even find it hurtful, doesn’t mean you should get to throw that person in jail. I mean, I’m hurt by all the intensely oppressive bullshit that issues from Rush Limbaugh‘s mouth, but I can’t have him arrested for it, nor should I be able to. I know that if I were making art for a cause that I believe in, and the government were trying to jail me for it, I would want someone to stand up for me. So it’s not just hollow rhetoric when I say that that WE ARE ALL PUSSY RIOT!

Photo: WENN.com

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