"Mother of God drive Putin away!" By Chloe Dinga.
That's the key phrase of what international news outlets are calling the Russian feminist punk group Pussy Riot's "unholy prayer." The group arrived at an anti-Putin protest at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow in February and after an impromptu performance three of the band members are being charged with "hooliganism" -- a charge that is asked to be accompanied with 3 years behind bars. Russia has long, long been known to keep social opposition at bay, but now with acquittal rates lower than they were with Stalin -- WITH STALIN -- the chances of the girls being convicted is hovering just around 99%. It was the viral nature of the performance that's affecting public opinion, with much of Russian society not interested in going against the grain this could have easily been swept under the rug...unfortunately for the Ruski government, the internet does now exist. Dazed Digital
has a fantastic piece about the controversy, written by Russian based blogger Nadya Lev. She discusses how in early 2012 Patriarch Kirill, Russian pope/moral police, and the Minister of Communication Igor Shchegolev met to discuss the nefarious nature of the world wide web, ending their discussion with exclamations of protection for the people. "Russian society must be protected from immoral content of the Internet" and this is due to the impact on the soul of the viewer. The days of tightly controlled, government run media are quickly running out. Putin has faced serious criticism for omitting any unfavorable information during speeches -- even editing out Kirill's $30,000 Breuget watch from photographs to reassure the people that those on top lived modestly. Pussy Riot has found much support -- both internationally and at home in Russia. They are bigger than ever now, but with the impending verdict -- coming August 17th -- it's hard to imagine they're enjoying it. The group is a feminist, punk rock collective of 10 women and their performances typically have a political motivation. Only just having started in 2011 the chicks get on stage (or rather wherever they decide to perform that day) with balaclavas masking their faces and neon colors wrapped around their bodies. They've definitely got a Bikini Kill, Riot grrrl thing going on -- as they cite influences of punk rock, Oi!, and the American female rock groups of the '90s. Knowing how to work the web they've been able to propel themselves to a level of international recognition, but with the federal prosecutor Alexei Nikiforov pushing for jail time and jail time only, things are looking pretty bleak in the bright glare of fame. Nikiforov has been quoted as saying the women "abused God."
In the above interview with the Guardian, three of the remaining Pussy Riot members -- who are currently in hiding from Russian authorities -- discuss their goals with forming the group. It's not for anarchy, it's not to hurt the people who hold tradition dear, instead it is to show people, particularly women (I mean we are discussing one of the most hardcore patriarchal societies in the world) that actions can lead to change. Much of Russia is stuck, the people feel stuck, society is stuck but Pussy Riot wants to "show it's not scary to do something." They must keep their faces covered at all times -- maybe it isn't a must, they do push the idea of anonymity and maybe the point is that anyone
can create change -- but it does feel as though they could all easily become public enemy number one (well one through ten) by letting their identities be known. Moral? Fuck the police. [caption id="attachment_10443" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="the girls and their performance"]
[/caption] [caption id="attachment_10444" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="support for Pussy Riot"]
[/caption] [caption id="attachment_10445" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="anti-Putin support (gotta love Tumblr)"]
[/caption] Global support, global solidarity. Watch these German girls support being smart, being creative and being independent