Feminist Pussy Riot Band on Trial in Russia

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by Melissa Silverstein
August 13, 2012 12:25 PM
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Something horrific is going on in Moscow that needs a lot more attention.  Three women who are members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot were jailed several months ago for "hooliganism" and "inciding religious hatred" for staging an peaceful protest action at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral. 

Their sham trial (read this dispatch from Masha Lipman at the New Yorker to get a sense of what a joke the trial is) concluded last week and a verdict is expected in the coming week.   According to Lipman each session went on for up to 10 hours and the band members were held in an "aquarium" each handcuffed to a female matron.  People were so tired by the schedule that police personnel were fainting from exhaustion.  These twenty something women could be given up to three years hard labor for their protest. 

Here are the statements the women made for their own defense (via The New Yorker)

Katya Samutsevich: “The Patriarch spoke many times about the supernatural role of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin in the Russian history and called for the believers to vote for him and his party. He said that Orthodox Christians don’t join protest rallies. This way he insulted many believers who have their own political opinions. We were perplexed by the Patriarch’s statements and his instructions how people should vote and how they should behave in political life.”

Nadia Tolokonnikova: “Our group took shape when the congress of United Russia [the pro-Kremlin force dominating the Russian parliament], which even stylistically looked like a congress of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R., decided that Putin would once again become the next President. I was outraged by the words of the Patriarch that Putin ‘rectified the crooked path of history.’ ”

Masha Alekhina: “I am accused of quasi-violent actions. But violence is used against me. I have been in jail since March 3rd; during this period law-enforcement officials, including operatives who handle cases of extremism, have come four times to talk with me. They threatened me mentioning my child, which, I think, is fully inadmissible. One person persuaded me to reject the services of my lawyer. He spoke with me accusingly: said, you are heirs of [Soviet] dissidents.”

Women singers like Bjork and Madonna have put forward statements in support of Pussy Riot and Madonna got called a "moralizing slut" by a Russian Deputy Prime Minister for standing up for the women.

This is a real moment for the world to see who and what Vladimir Putin is really made of, and it's a bunch of 20 something punk feminist rockers who are making the world pay attention.  Free Pussy Riot.

The Absurd and Outrageous Trial of Pussy Riot (The New Yorker)

You Should Read the Pussy Riot Defendants’ Powerful Closing Statements (Gawker)

The Pussy Riot Scandal (The New Yorker)

Pussy Riot's Closing Statement (Slate)

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1 Comment

  • Linn | August 15, 2012 4:22 PMReply

    Melissa, if you see/hear about a petition or some way for people here in the USA to help draw attention to this tragedy, please post it on your website. Thank you!

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