Pussy Riot No Longer a Band; First Russian Screening of Their Doc Canceled

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by Inkoo Kang
December 30, 2013 11:54 AM
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"Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer"

Just a day after newly freed Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina announced the disbandment of Russia's most important feminist punk group, the Putin administration canceled the first public screening of the film Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

After serving two years in prison for the crime of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred," Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were released as part of a larger amnesty bill. The two Pussy Rioters have dismissed the bill as a PR move to promote the already controversial Sochi Olympics. 

In a press conference last Friday, Tolokonnikova announced, "We are not Pussy Riot now." 

"We can promote our cause without playing any shows," added Alyokhina. "And we will never play any shows for money."

Instead, the two women will devote their political energies into a new endeavor, a crowd-funded prisoners' rights group. "We feel a huge responsibility for people who are in prisons," said Alyokhina. 

They then renewed the call for a boycott of the events at Sochi. "Attending the Olympics is the endorsement of Russia's internal policies," asserted Tolokonnikova.

The next day, the government shut down a Moscow screening of Punk Prayer. Co-director Maxim Pozdorovkin, who lives in the United States, had initially smuggled the film into Russia, but had received permission from the Department of Culture to screen it. 

That the Pussy Riot documentary -- a sympathetic portrait of the three brave Rioters who were arrested, tried, and sentenced to prison for a minute-long political protest -- has been effectively banned is a real shame, especially when many Russians do not understand the punk group and their intentions.  People in the US can see the film on HBO Go.

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