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т н у Б с и к A PUNK PRAYER





оглавл Pussy Riot

06 – 09

Vladimir Putin

10 – 11

Red Square

12 – 13

Cathedral of Christ the Savior

14 – 17

Arrest and Sentencing

18 – 21

Support: Anti – Flag Amnesty International

22 – 25 26 – 31

Prison Interview

32 – 35

Бунт киск hooliga




Pussy Riot | 06

ки — Depending on who you ask, Pussy Riot can either be interpreted as heroes, or simply criminals. The Russian Orthodox Church views the punk rock collective as heretics and blasphemers due to their feminist, political and anti-Putin protests in Moscow. In recent years, Pussy Riot have targeted venues on a larger scale, becoming evermore daring with their unsanctioned performances. Formed over ideals based on punk ethics and activism, together, they form an angry,

energetic and relentless female machine. It is believed that the group incorporated 10 permanent members in the beginning, shrouded in secrecy for fear of arrest and prosecution. Carrying out protests and demonstrations wearing brightly coloured balaclavas, Pussy Riot invite others to join in and stand up against Vladimir Putin. They kickstarted their group through staging small flash protests across Moscow where they would perform energetic punk anthems intended to scrutinise Putin’s government and it’s views towards women’s rights.

Pussy Riot | 07


Pussy Riot | 08

Pussy Riot | 09



mir Putin — However, Putin’s approval rate fell to 62% in January of 2013. Western spectators have described him as “a real threat to the stability and peace of the world”, comparing him to a “ruthless dictator”. Near the end of 2011, the anti-Putin opposition movement in Russia become more prominent, with street demonstrations protesting against an allegedly falsified election in favour of Putin’s party. Protests cropped up across major cities with some of the biggest in Moscow since the 1990’s.

Vladimir Putin | 10

President of Russia since May 2012, Putin previously served as President from 2000 to 2008. At this time public opinion surveys placed his approval rating at 80%, making it the highest of any leader in the world. Time magazine placed Putin within their “100 most influential people in the world”, and honored him with Person of the Year in 2007. He has been hailed for “pulling Russia out of chaos”. Putin often supports an outdoor, tough guy image in the media, demonstrating his physical capabilities and taking part in unusual or dangerous acts such as extreme sports and interaction with wild animals.




Vladimir Putin | 11

Красная п


Red Square | 12


— Pussy Riot have managed to become a symbol of Russian youth’s discontent. On January 20th, they began what was described as their “breakthrough performance”. Eight members of the group stood upon Lobnoye Mesto in Red Square, Moscow and played a song calling for a revolt against the Russian government. The title has been translated in to English by various media sources as “Putin has Pissed Himself ”, “Putin Chickened Out”, “Putin Got Scared” and “Putin is Wetting Himself ”.


A judge found two members of the group, Galkina and Schebleva, “guilty under article 20.2 of the Administrative Code” (violation of the rules for conducting rallies and pickets) and imposed a fine of 500 rubles on each.

Red Square | 13

Cathedral of Christ the Sa

21/02/2012 — Five women from the group entered the Russian Orthodox Church, Cathedral of Christ the Savior as part of a protest movement against the re-election of Vladimir Putin. The group proceeded to stand at the altar and remove their winter clothing in favour of balaclavas and jump, shout and punch the air in protest. At the time of the protest there was no church service but in under less than a minute the group were escorted outside by guards. The performance, along with footage shot at the Epiphany Cathedral in Yelokhovo, contributed to a video for their song entitled “Punk Prayer: Mother of God Drive Putin Away”. The song calls on the Virgin Mary to get rid of Vladimir Putin, encouraging her to “become a feminist”. The song also alludes to ties between the Church and the KGB and attacks the Churches more traditional view on women’s rights. They refer to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Krill I as a bitch, accusing him of believing in Putin more than his lord, God. Pussy Riot use the term “Holy Shit” to evaluate the situation of the country and the fusion of Moscow Patriarchy and the government. The Patriarch Krill openly supported Putin’s re-election stating that he believed Putin to be a “miracle of God”, one who had “rectified the crooked path of history”. Members of Pussy Riot referred to the Church as a “weapon in a dirty election campaign”, calling Putin “a man who is as far as he can be from God’s truth”


Cathedral of Christ the Saviour | 14


Храм Спас Cathedral of Christ the Saviour | 15

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour | 16

Virgin Mary, Mother of God, put Putin away Put Putin away, put Putin away ... Black robe, golden epaulettes All parishioners crawl to bow The phantom of liberty is in heaven Gay-pride sent to Siberia in chains ... The head of the KGB, their chief saint, Leads protesters to prison under escort In order not to offend His Holiness Women must give birth and love ... Shit, shit, the Lord’s shit! Shit, shit, the Lord’s shit! ... Virgin Mary, Mother of God, become a feminist Become a feminist, become a feminist ... The Church’s praise of rotten dictators The cross-bearer procession of black limousines A teacher-preacher will meet you at school Go to class - bring him money! ... Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin Bitch, better believe in God instead The belt of the Virgin can’t replace mass-meetings Mary, Mother of God, is with us in protest! ... Virgin Mary, Mother of God, put Putin away Put Putin away, put Putin away

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour | 17

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— Following the February 21st “Punk Prayer”, a criminal case was opened against the members of the group who had participated. On March 3rd, Maria and Nadezhda were arrested and accused of hooliganism with another member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, following shortly after. The Patriarch of Moscow and Russia, Kirill I, condemned the act as “blasphemous” but the church’s members varied in opinion on the subject, with a petition being signed by 5,000 members calling for the women to be forgiven. Formal charges were presented on June 4th, with the trail beginning July 30th. The members pleaded not guilty, whilst protestors around the world got together to show their support for the group. All three women were convicted and sentenced to two years in a penal colony on August 17, 2012, despite worldwide criticism and uproar. Their final testimonies on 8th August at the Khamovnichesky Court were met with applause countered by the judge saying repeatedly, “we are not in a theatre”. When the girls left the court they had a standing ovation.

арестоват Arrest and Sentencing | 18

we are n in a thea

Ń‚ŃŒ Arrest and Sentencing | 19

Arrest and Sentencing | 20

Arrest and Sentencing | 21

ANTI – Support: Anti–Flag | 22

– FLAG Support: Anti–Flag | 23

ывать уэль

Support: Anti–Flag | 24

SOLI — Dear Friends and Family,

Pussy Riot embody the spirit of punk rock which speaks truth to power that inspired the members of Anti-Flag to start our band and dedicate ourselves to the punk rock community and the planet. The Russian authority’s actions against Pussy Riot are clearly an attack on freedom of thought, opinion and artistic expression which must be protected for any society to be free. Anti-Flag calls for the immediate release of Pussy Riot and all prisoners of conscience. Whether it be trumped up charges levied by police against Occupy protestors, or the trumped up charges levied by the Russian authorities against the members of Pussy Riot, there is no difference in the police-state tactics that those in power will stoop to in order to oppress those who are willing fight for equality and justice for all, not just the wealthy few. We need everyone’s help in this fight! We are trying to help in our small way by releasing this cover of Pussy Riot’s ‘Virgin Mary, redeem us of Putin’ in order to raise awareness. In Solidarity, Anti-Flag.

Support: Anti–Flag | 25



Punk rock is much more than a t-shirt, a sound, a record, or a band, and it knows no borders or nationality. Punk rock is a community and a family that spans around the globe. By now you may have heard that three members of our community, three young women who are members of the band Pussy Riot, are being detained by the Russian authorities for performing their protest song ‘Virgin Mary, redeem us of Putin’ in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral on 21 February 2012.  The three have been charged with “hooliganism” under Article 213 of the Russian Criminal Code.  If found guilty, they could be jailed for up to seven years.

Support: Amnesty International | 26


AT I O N Support: Amnesty International | 27







Support: Amnesty International | 28


— “We call Maria, Nadezhda and Ekaterina prisoners of conscience because we believe that they were arrested and then sentenced purely for peacefully expressing their opinions - an integral part of everyone’s human right to free speech. Pussy Riot will have known performing anti-Putin lyrics to a punk tune in Moscow’s main Orthodox cathedral was a massive risk. Yet, by international human rights standards, their behaviour was not illegal. Since the three women’s arrest, some of their family members as well as one of their lawyers have received threats. Even though the police and the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office have been informed about these threats, there appears to be no investigation into the incidents. In addition, the tax authorities have reportedly blocked the bank account of the lawyers’ association where the lawyer of one of the three women works. The lawyers think that this is intended to put pressure on the lawyers to withdraw from the case.”

Support: Amnesty International | 29


Support: Amnesty International | 30

Support: Amnesty International | 31


GQ magazine managed to correspond with the three arrested members of Pussy Riot, slipping questions in with the groups lawyers. Katya’s answers got confiscated. Nadya’s and Masha’s are as follows: GQ: What is your average day like now? How do you get the news from the outside? Masha: They have small, medium, and large cells here. We’re in three different small ones. Only the large cells have inroom showers; we get showers once a week. After 6 a.m., you’re not allowed to sleep under a blanket. Theoretically, until lightsout at 10 p.m., you’re not allowed to sleep at all, but in practice you can lie on top of the blanket and cover yourself with your coat. Nobody can explain why; the only answer you hear to any question is “That’s the rule” and “We keep to a regimen here.” Every day there’s an hour-long walk in a “yard,” which is a concrete box with two benches and a sliver of sky between a cement wall and a plastic roof. It’s all “Hug the wall” this and “Hands behind your back” that. They search our cells regularly and confiscate our drawings and notes. Why? “The rules.” Pretty much the only news we get is from federal TV channels. Only now do I realize the sheer amount of lies and censorship there. Once a week our lawyers bring us different news, words of support, and that helps a lot.


Nadya: Prison is a good place to learn to really listen to your own mind and your

own body. I’ve learned to read much more deeply, for instance. For four months, I had nothing to read but the Bible, so I read it for all four months – diligently, picking everything apart. Prison is like a monastery – it’s a place for ascetic practices, and after a month here, I became a vegetarian. Walking in circles for an hour in that tiny dusty yard gets you into a pretty meditative state as well. We don’t get much in the way of the news. But enough to get inspired. GQ: A Moscow newspaper has printed a vicious article about how you’re getting “VIP treatment” in prison, with massages and manicures. Nadya: Did Auschwitz have VIP death lounges? If yes, then I suppose you can call our conditions VIP treatment. GQ: Your closing statements in court, where you cite everyone from the Bible to Dostoyevsky to Socrates to Solzhenitsyn, have become instant classics. Some lines, like Katya’s “We have already won” or Nadya’s “People can sense the truth. Truth has an ontological superiority over lies” are now as famous as your songs. How did you manage to write these speeches with no access to any research? Were you at least able to coordinate them? Nadya: Our trial, as you know, was designed to be as short as possible. The judge scheduled back-to-back court sessions from ten in the morning to ten at night. Then it took a couple of hours more to get us back to the cells. There, I would

Prison Interview | 32



щ eat an orange, drink some milk, and start working on my speech by night-light. To get closer to the dim lamp, I would sit on an upside-down wash basin, right under the hooks where our clothes hang. After twelve hours at the courthouse and two transfers, I wasn’t in the best of states. But it doesn’t take that much effort to put truth on paper. Even if your head is splitting from exhaustion, it feels kind of nice to just let go and be sincere, to have an open soul. You can even allow yourself to be a kind of idiot, like Dostoyevsky’s Count Myshkin.

We specifically made sure not to break any laws. When people asked us if we were afraid, we’d say, “We’re not doing anything illegal – and if someone decides to put us in jail, they’ll do it anyway.”

Masha: Here in Russia, a prisoner has no Internet access, no computer, not even a typewriter, so I wrote everything by hand: many rough drafts and then a combined “clean” draft. We read some bits of our speeches to each other during the transfer, in the unventilated, smoke-filled prison bus.

GQ: Did you think that it would be specifically the church performance that got you arrested? Your Red Square show [where Pussy Riot performed a song titled “Riot in Russia – Putin Is Chickenshit” right by the walls of the Kremlin] seemed far riskier at the time.

Nadya: We didn’t really coordinate with each other. After putting on performances together, we had learned to understand each other without words. But in court, we had some surprising coincidences. For example, Masha’s statement and mine ended up using the exact same two quotations from the New Testament.

Nadya: To be frank, we tried not to think about the possible arrests at all. If you start thinking about this sort of thing, you can’t do anything political. Plus, we couldn’t even imagine that the authorities would be so dumb that they would actually legitimize our influence by arresting us. Sure, Tsentr E tried to intimidate us by tailing us constantly. But unlike Putin, we’re not chickenshit – so we didn’t stop performing. The church performance was a perfect opportunity for Putin’s apparatchiks to claim that our motives were religious intolerance and not political protest. This way our persecution could be framed as a righteous burning of blasphemers, as opposed to just stifling free speech.

GQ: So, were you ready to end up in here when you put on the balaclavas a year ago? Nadya: We knew we were in a kind of risk zone. But we deliberately did things that were peaceful and nonviolent and didn’t even damage other people’s property.

We acted according to Paul Feyerabend’s slogan: “Anything goes.” From our very first performance on, we were shadowed by the so-called Tsentr E “Center for Combating Extremism,” basically a police unit designed for persecuting political opposition], but we decided to keep going regardless of the pressure. Anything goes.

ь Prison Interview | 33




л GQ: “Pussy Riot” is a weirdly perfect band name, especially considering you’re Russian. Who thought of this first? Nadya: It’s hard to even remember now. We were all in this near panic. We had just suddenly realized that there has never been a feminist punk collective in Russia and decided to create one right there. So we were all kind of manic and excited and came up with the name on the spot. Masha: Everything is collective – the lyrics, the band name. GQ: Did you know that your anonymous bandmates who are still at large would actually drop a single, “Putin Lights Up the Fires,” on the day of your verdict? Nadya: I had no idea. I was also pleasantly surprised when they blasted the single [outside the courthouse] during the verdict. Masha: I had an inkling they would. GQ: Were you surprised by the scope and the volume of Western support for you? Nadya: I still can’t shake the feeling that I’ve spent the last six months acting in a big-budget movie. The amount of Western support that we got is a miracle. I believe that if Russia had independent national media, our performance would be better understood at home as well. Right now we’re in hell here. It’s hard living in a place where everyone can hate you because of something they heard on TV. That’s why

every gesture of support is so important and so much appreciated. GQ: How and when did you find out that Madonna has performed “Like a Virgin” in a balaclava, with the words “Pussy Riot” on her bare body? Nadya: On August 7, the judge suddenly ended the session at 6 p.m., not at 10 as usual. “She’s going to Madonna’s show,” we joked as they took us out in handcuffs, with that police dog barking at us. In the morning, as we arrived to the courthouse, our lawyers ran to us with some blurry black-and-white photos of a half-naked woman in a balaclava, with “Pussy Riot” on her back. We’re like, “Oh wow, that’s cool.” And our lawyers say: “You don’t get it, this is Madonna!” “Wow, that’s REALLY cool.” That was all we could even say before the judge came in, and our useless trial began again.


GQ: Does it bug you as feminists that your global popularity is at least partly based on the fact that you turned out to be, well, easy on the eyes? Nadya: I humbly hope that our attractiveness performs a subversive function. First of all, because without “us” in balaclavas, jumping all over Red Square with guitars, there is no “us” smiling sweetly in the courtroom. You can’t get the latter without the former. Second, because this attractiveness destroys the idiotic stereotype, still extant in Russia, that a feminist is an ugly-ass frustrated harridan. This stereotype is so puke-making that I will deign to be sweet for a little bit in

Prison Interview | 34




order to destroy it. Though every time I open my mouth, the sweetness goes out the window anyway. GQ: This is perhaps an insensitive question, but what’s more useful for the progressive movement in Russia right now: Pussy Riot at large or Pussy Riot in jail? Nadya: We will know the answer only after the next wave of protests. I would love to see that, even imprisoned, we can still be useful and inspiring. In any case, I’m happy I got two years. For every person out there with a functioning brain, this verdict is so dumb and cruel that it removes any lingering illusions about Putin’s system. It’s a verdict on the system. Masha: At large, of course. That’s why the authorities don’t want to let us out. But we still have things to say, and we still want to say them. And even locked up, we’re not doing too bad of a job. We couldn’t even imagine that the authorities would be so dumb that they would actually legitimize our influence by arresting us. Sure, they tried to intimidate us constantly. But unlike Putin, we’re not chickenshit.

Prison Interview | 35




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Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer  

Part of a collection of publicatios focusing on modern figures of resistance. A Punk Prayer focuses on the feminist punk rock collective, Pu...

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