Sunday, September 16, 2012

Who Is Pussy Riot?


MEMPHIS (IFS) -- Depending on who you ask, Pussy Riot is something different. The Russian government views them as criminals. The Russian Orthodox Christian church views them as heretics and blasphemers. The internet views them as a Youtube phenom, and the punk scene views them as something exciting, an angry energetic female machine that could quite possibly be the second coming of Riot Grrrl.
Perhaps the women known as Pussy Riot are all of those. A feminist political collective formed of friends that found they held similar ideals at anti-Putin protests in Moscow, they formed a group based on punk ethics and political activism. The identities of the group's members, said to number 10 permanent members, is kept secret, and they wear brightly colored outfits and balaclavas to their protests, inviting others to join in wearing disguises as well.
The group got their start staging miniature flash protests in locations like the Moscow Metro, performing short, fast politically charged punk songs that are harshly critical of Vladimir Putin's government, specifically its restrictive stance on women's issues. From that point, the scale of the venues chosen for their unsanctioned performances grew in scale, including a concert from the roof of a detention center where protest leader and blogger Alexei Navalny was being held in police custody on December 14, 2011. There, the band was able to catch authorities off guard, staging their performance before making a hasty escape.
But it was the group's next performance - in Moscow's Red Square on January 20, 2012 - that launched the band to international news outlets as well as landing eight of the group's members in police custody. After being released after paying a fine, the collective was not ready to stop. On February 21, 2012, they took their protest to Christ the Savior Cathedral, where four members played at protest set that lasted less than five minutes, and included the song "Holy Shit", before it was halted. While church officials made demands of lawmakers that blasphemy should be declared a crime, the local law enforcement is exploring charges of hooliganism, which could carry a penalty of up to eight years with conviction, and local Cossack groups are staging patrols around churches to prevent similar events from taking place.
It's probably a given that we have yet to see the end of Pussy Riot or their political agenda, which bodes well for the state of punk in the world and its potential as a vehicle for change. While many groups enjoy the freedom to criticize their governments freely in their home countries, bands like Pussy Riot are the true punks, using their music to proclaim their voice of dissent.
We'll continue to keep an eye on the women of Pussy Riot as they continue to enact change through the power of punk.

Free MP3s From Pussy Riot 
"Освободи брусчатку" (Listen/Download MP3)
"Кропоткин-водка" (Listen/Download MP3)
"Путин зассал" (Listen/Download MP3)
"Убей сексиста" (Listen/Download MP3)
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