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Members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot seek justice, face worsening prison conditions
Hear close to 40 minutes of music, European media reports, and interviews with band members. Two of the three women band members were jailed after playing an anti-Putin protest song in a Cathedral then posting it on You Tube. The charges were for “hoolidanism“ motivated by religious hatred. The performance was intended to highlight close ties between the Putin Administration and the Russian Orthodox Church. The Putin administration is reportedly under increasing pressure form a large cross section of Russians for human rights abuses. An international outcry to free Pussy Riot continues, with at least 9 international human rights organizations already weighing in. (39:13)
In February, they performed a one minute song called a “punk prayer”, telling the Virgin Mary to become feminist, and to “rid us of Putin“. They insist it was political protest, not religious, and were jailed under a law made for property crimes. Two of the three members, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikoya are serving a two-year sentences in a penal colony, including hard labor. The third member, Yekatarina Samutsevitch, was freed, because authorities had seized her instrument and removed her by force before the performance started. Samutsevitch has filed a human rights complaint with the European Court of Human Rights, which has indicated its intent to hear the complaint.
The arrest was seen as a chilling effect for other protest groups. Since the arrest, the Russian Parliament has adopted a series of restrictive laws imposing fines for protests and broadening the application of treason laws. At first, the conditions in jail were not reported as problematic. However, word is getting out about increasing problems, as anticipated. First, the jailed women switched their legal team to the lawyer defending Samutsevich, after their lawyers were refused access to their clients and feared for their safety. In recent days, Alyokhina has reported threats to her safety and requested protection. She has been moved to solitary confinement. It is unclear exactly what is happening on the inside
Pussy Riot formed as a loosely-knit feminist theatrical group formed for the purpose of political protest around 2008. The punk band Pussy Riot was formed out of the larger group in 2011, and undertook a series of protest song performances around the country, including the one they were arrested for. The following statement appears on the website: Pussy Riot is an anonymous Russian feminist performance art group.. Through a series of peaceful performances in highly visible places, the group has given voice to basic rights under threat in Russia today, while expressing the values and principles of gender equality, democracy and freedom of expression contained in the Russian constitution and other international instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the CEDAW Convention.
The women expected to be arrested and jailed for their actions and anticipated a lot that has occurred since. This type of brave action is something punk rock should be used for and the women should be supported. For more information, go to freepussyriot.org.