That is one impressive ‘death stare’ she’s flinging at Provincial Paddy there, ain’t it?
In their first European television appearance since they were released from Russian prison, Irish talkshow host Brendan O’Connor interviewed Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, managing to make himself look like—this is so, so easy—a complete twat. They can’t even—indeed they do not tryto —hide their exasperation at his astonishingly witless questions.
To begin with the Saturday Night Show presenter repeatedly refers to the formerly imprisoned feminist activists as “girls.” It goes (rapidly) downhill from there and ends when he asks them what they think about Madonna and if she is a “freedom fighter, like them”!
They so clearly think O’Conner is an asshole. Even Graham Norton would have been a better choice to interview them!
The “girls” will be in New York this week for an Amnesty International event.
Speaking at their first press conference since their release from prison, members of the Punk collective Pussy Riot said they still wanted to “get rid” of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina claimed they were now more politically radicalized after their 21-month prison sentence than before, and were determined to campaign for the rights of all other prisoners. According to the Daily Telegraph, the activists told reporters:
“Our attitude to Vladimir Putin has not changed. We’d like to do what we said in our last action - we’d like him to go away…”
Tolokonnikova was referring to the song “Virgin Mary, Get Rid of Putin,” which Pussy Riot had performed at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow prior to their arrest.
Vladimir Putin is a very closed, opaque chekist,” said Ms Tolokonnikova, using the Russian slang for a secret policeman.
“He is very much afraid. He builds walls around him that block out reality.
“Many of the things he said about Pussy Riot were so far from the truth, but it was clear he really believed them. I think he believes that Western countries are a threat, that it’s a big bad world out there where houses walk on chicken legs and there is a global masonic conspiracy. I don’t want to live in this terrifying fairytale.”
Both Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina named former tycoon and political dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky as the politican they would like to see remove Putin from office. Khodorkovsky was also unexpectedly released from prison last week under a Kremlin amnesty.
Mr Khodorkovsky is currently in Berlin, but has ruled out a career in politics. However, he is said to have “expressed determination to work to help other political prisoners, and he and Pussy Riot have exchanged open letters of support following their release.”
Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina mentioned Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, as a source of inspiration, in particular his book on Russian prisons gave them the strength to overcome their ordeal in gaol.
The activists also “extended an olive branch” to the Russian Orthodox Church, saying “they believed its charitable work had an important role to play in their campaign to change Russia’s prison culture from one of violence and punishment to one of rehabilitation.”
Anti-Folk mainstay Jeffrey Lewis is having a busy year. Not only has he released a collaborative album with bizarro-folk founding father Peter Stampfel (who just celebrated his 74th birthday yesterday, incidentally), he’s also released the “WWPRD” E.P. and toured extensively with his band The Rain. The centerpiece of the E.P. is an idealistic, poetic tribute to Pussy Riot, the female punk band famously being held captive in Russia for the “crime” of staging a protest. Here’s a partial transcription.
Pussy Riot went to prison
Just to make some people listen
They say church & state’s corrupt
It must be true ‘cuz they’re locked up
Before we lose democracy
You ask yourself, and I’ll ask me -
Put in jail for two years each
Just for punk rock public speech
What is this, the middle ages?
Let those women out of those cages
Before you choose complacency
You ask yourself, and I’ll ask me -
Minds can open in a flash
when hit by art or hit by cash
Money wins as like as not
Imagination’s all we’ve got
So let’s just have the decency
For you to ask yourself, and I’ll ask me -
‘Cause progress is not guaranteed
I say Pussy Riot is what we need
This ain’t the old Red Army Faction
This is bold, non-violent action
To change the world, the biggest hint is art is really what convinces
That’s why they always try to buy it
But they couldn’t buy off Pussy Riot
So when you see bands on TV
You ask yourself, and I’ll ask me -
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday called for three members of the punk band Pussy Riot to be freed, a sign that the women’s release could be imminent as their case comes up for appeal on Oct. 1.
The women were arrested for performing a raucous prayer inside Moscow’s main cathedral asking Virgin Mary to save Russia from Vladimir Putin as he headed into the election that handed him a third term as president. They had already spent more than five months in jail when they were convicted in August of “hooliganism driven by religious hatred” and sentenced to two years in prison.
Medvedev remains subordinate to Putin. But by being the one to call for the women’s release, the prime minister, who has cultivated the image as a more liberal leader, could allow Putin to put the case behind him while not appearing weak.
Medvedev said the women’s appearance and the “hysteria” accompanying them made him sick, but keeping them in prison any longer would be unproductive.
“In my view, a suspended sentence would be sufficient, taking into account the time they have already spent in custody,” he said during a televised meeting with members of his United Russia party.
Patti Smith’s pussy has been rioting for 4 decades now and this clip from 1978 is a reminder of just much of a rock warrior she was and has always been.
This all-too-brief clip is from a 1978 PBS television fundraiser, The Night Of The Empty Chairs, organized by Leonard Bernstein in support of Amnesty International and in protest of political oppression across the globe.
Patti began her performance by reading a poetic declaration from Czech band Plastic People Of The Universe, who had for many years experienced unrelenting oppression in their homeland.
In the sixties there was a piece called HUNDRED PER CENT that the Plastic People of the Universe writ. After a decade of harassment, censorship, mace, lice - they were arrested in the Spring of 1977. All their work - the technology of their work - everything built on blood and sweat, was confiscated, which brought another blow in the face, which mouths the tongue of love. Rock ‘n’ roll: the universal language of freedom.
In the harsh light of recent events involving Pussy Riot, these words have never seemed more timely or more true.
A HUNDRED PER CENT - REVISITED
They’re afraid of the old for their memory.
They’re afraid of the young for their ideas - ideals.
They’re afraid of funerals - of flowers - of workers -
of churches - of party members - of good times.
They’re afraid of art - they’re afraid of art.
They’re afraid of language - communication.
They’re afraid of theater.
They’re afraid of film - of Pasolini - of God/dard.
of painters - of musicians - of stones and sculptors.
They’re afraid of radio stations.
They’re afraid of technology, free float form of
information. Paris Match - Telex - Guttenburg - Xerox
- IBM - wave lengths.
They’re afraid of telephones.
They’re afraid to let the people in.
They’re afraid to let the people out.
They’re afraid of the left.
They’re afraid of the right.
They’re afraid of the sudden departure of Soviet
troops - of change in Moscow - of facing the strange -
of spies - of counterspies.
They’re afraid of their own police.
They’re afraid of guitar players.
They’re afraid of athletes - of Olympics - of the
Olympic spirit - of saints - of the innocence of
They’re afraid of political prisoners.
They’re afraid of prisoners families - of conscience -
They’re afraid of the future.
They’re afraid of tomorrow’s morning.
They’re afraid of tomorrow’s evening.
They’re afraid of tomorrow.
They’re afraid of the future.
They’re afraid of stratocasters - of telecasters.
They’re afraid of rock ‘n’ roll.
What does he mean, even rock bands? Even rock bands?
Rock bands more than anybody else suffer from
They’re afraid of rock ‘n’ roll - of telecasters - of
stratocasters - of old age - in the streets - behind
the locked doors.
They’re afraid of what they’ve written - of what
they’ve said - of fire - of water - of wind - of slow
- of snow - of love - excretion.
They’re afraid of noise - of peace - of silence - of
grief - of joy - of language - of laughter - of
pornography - of honest and upright - they’re uptight.
They’re afraid of lone and learn and learned people.
They’re afraid of human rights and Karl Marx and raw
They’re afraid of socialism.
They’re afraid of rock ‘n’ roll.
They’re afraid of rock ‘n’ roll.
They’re afraid of rock ‘n’ roll.
They’re afraid of rock ‘n’ roll.
AND WHY THE HELL ARE WE AFRAID OF THEM?
Patti Smith Group guitarist Ivan Kral, who is Czech, provides some vocal back-up.
(In case you are wondering, the original slogan is in Spanish and translates to “They shall not pass,” expressing determination to defend a position.)
This was all done with the blessing of the members of Pussy Riot, and in conjunction with the people behind the FreePussyRiot.org website.
Tara and I both know the people behind The Voice Project—they are friends of ours—and we can personally vouch for these do-gooders. 100% of the proceedsreally will go to Pussy Riot’s legal defense fund.
This came prior to Judge Marina Syrova’s court handing down a two year prison sentence today when the feminist punk band was found guilty of “hooliganism driven by religious hatred.”
Our imprisonment has served as a clear and obvious sign that the whole country is being robbed of freedom. And this threat of annihilating the freeing, emancipatory forces in Russia – that’s what causes me to be enraged. Seeing the large in the small, the trend in the sign, the common in the individual.
Second-Wave Feminists said the personal is political. That’s how it is. The Pussy Riot case has shown how the individual troubles of three people facing charges of hooliganism can give life to a political movement. A single case of repression and persecution against those who had the courage to Speak in an authoritarian country has shaken the world: its activists, punks, pop stars, and government members, its comedians and ecologists, its feminists and its masculinists, its Islamic theologians, and those Christians who are praying for Pussy Riot.
The personal has become political. The Pussy Riot case has brought together as one forces so multidirectional, I still have trouble believing this isn’t a dream. The impossible is happening in contemporary Russian politics: a demanding, persistent, powerful and consistent impact of society on its government.
I am thankful to everyone who has said “Free Pussy Riot!” Right now, all of us are participating a large and important political Event that the Putin regime is having an ever more difficult time controlling. Whatever the upcoming verdict for Pussy Riot, we – and you – are already winning. Because we have learned to rage, and to speak politically.
Pussy Riot is happy that we have been able to spur a truly collective action, and that your political passion has proven to be so strong, it has cleared the barriers of language, culture, surroundings, and economic and political status. Kant would say that he sees no other reason for this Miracle besides man’s moral beginning. Thank you for this Miracle
Defense lawyers for Pussy Riot said they would appeal the verdict, although they are pessimistic about it being overturned.
“Under no circumstances will the girls ask for a pardon (from Putin),” said attorney Mark Feygin. “They will not beg and humiliate themselves before such a bastard.”
Pussy Riot—Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alekhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30—have been dubbed prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International.
In an echo of his past work, Sex Pistols artist Jamie Reid razzes repressive Russian President Vladimir Putin with this great image in support of Pussy Riot. (In 1989, Reid produced a similar image with Virgin founder Richard Branson in a balaclava for a memorable cover of the legendary British punkzine Vague).
Three members of Pussy Riot—Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30—have been jailed since March when they performed their an anti-Putin “punk prayer” during a hit-n-run performance art protest inside a Moscow cathedral.
When it comes to feminist-punk, there’s none more femme, nor punk, than the mighty Peaches.
So it’s no real surprise to learn that Peaches has been following the Pussy Riot trial closely, and has turned her hand to making both a video and a track in support of the persecuted Russian rock group.
A YouTube casting call went out last week, asking for fans to send in their own, pro-Pussy Riot footage to be included in the video. Well it is now done and dusted, and available to watch online. The track itself, called “Free Pussy Riot”, is available as a free download, and all Peaches is asking in return for her work is that everyone sign the Free Pussy Riot petition at change.org.
This is the statement Peaches and friends have made to go with the download:
Peaches, Simonne Jones, and tons of musicians, artists, activists, and free-thinkers are came together to make a video for this song in support of the russian punk feminist band PUSSY RIOT! Now that you have heard about the song and video, we want you to take action! Here is why:
In March 2012 three members of Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevitch, were taken into custody by Russian authorities for their participation as part of a protest at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. Their punk prayer is and was an act of free speech and the charges of “hooliganism” and detainment of the three women are seen by the world as a cruel heavy handed act of oppression, are being carried out to discourage free thought and speech in Russia.
If Russia wishes to be a part of the modern globalized world it must adhere to the standards and principles of a free nation where its people have the right to have a free and open dialogue about all subjects. Discussion, debate, and action are the basic building blocks of a free society. By following through with the prosecution of these women Russian political bullies are currently making a mockery of free speech, free thought, and Russia’s own country’s constitution.
We, the citizens of the world and advocates for free speech, DEMAND the immediate release of Pussy Riot. The verdict is planned for August 17th - let’s show Pussy Riot our support!
The charges and punishments facing Maria, Nadezhda, and Ekaterina are nothing more than a political stunt by the Russian authorities and Russian Orthodox Chruch to retain control over the Russian people and instill fear into the free-thinkers, political activists, and artists of Russia.
The world is watching, and we do not like what we see.
A statement from Marxist intellectual Slavoj Žižek on the Pussy Riot trial
The True Blasphemy
Pussy Riot members accused of blasphemy and hatred of religion? The answer is easy: the true blasphemy is the state accusation itself, formulating as a crime of religious hatred something which was clearly a political act of protest against the ruling clique. Recall Brecht’s old quip from his Beggars’ Opera: “What is the robbing of a bank compared to the founding of a new bank?” In 2008, Wall Street gave us the new version: what is the stealing of a couple of thousand of dollars, for which one goes to prison, compared to financial speculations that deprive tens of millions of their homes and savings, and are then rewarded by state help of sublime grandeur? Now, we got another version from Russia, from the power of the state: What is a modest Pussy Riot obscene provocation in a church compared to the accusation against Pussy Riot, this gigantic obscene provocation of the state apparatus which mocks any notion of decent law and order?
Was the act of Pussy Riot cynical? There are two kinds of cynicism: the bitter cynicism of the oppressed which unmasks the hypocrisy of those in power, and the cynicism of the oppressors themselves who openly violate their own proclaimed principles. The cynicism of Pussy Riot is of the first kind, while the cynicism of those in power — why not call their authoritarian brutality a Prick Riot — is of the much more ominous second kind.
Back in 1905, Leon Trotsky characterized tsarist Russia as “a vicious combination of the Asian knout and the European stock market.” Does this designation not hold more and more also for the Russia of today? Does it not announce the rise of the new phase of capitalism, capitalism with Asian values (which, of course, has nothing to do with Asia and everything to do with the anti-democratic tendencies in today’s global capitalism). If we understand cynicism as ruthless pragmatism of power which secretly laughs at its own principles, then Pussy Riot are anti-cynicism embodied. Their message is: IDEAS MATTER. They are conceptual artists in the noblest sense of the word: artists who embody an Idea. This is why they wear balaclavas: masks of de-individualization, of liberating anonymity. The message of their balaclavas is that it doesn’t matter which of them got arrested — they’re not individuals, they’re an Idea. And this is why they are such a threat: it is easy to imprison individuals, but try to imprison an Idea!
The panic of those in power — displayed by their ridiculously excessive brutal reaction — is thus fully justified. The more brutally they act, the more important symbol Pussy Riot will become. Already now the result of the oppressive measures is that Pussy Riot are a household name literally all around the world.
It is the sacred duty of all of us to prevent that the courageous individuals who compose Pussy Riot will not pay in their flesh the price for their becoming a global symbol.
Björk has posted a ‘statement in defense of Pussy Riot’ on her website:
here comes a statement in defense of pussy riot :
as a musician and a mother i would like to express i fiercely dont agree with them being put to jail because of their peaceful protest performance . they are currently standing trial and facing seven years in prison for this .
in my opinion the russian authorities should let them go home to their families and children
i would like to invite pussy riot to join me in a particular song on stage : which was written for all enhancement of justice ( you can guess : once , which one )
During yesterday’s performance of “Gloria” in Stockholm, Patti Smith and her band make it quite clear how they feel about the imprisonment of Russian punk band Pussy Riot.
“Ask Jesus Christ. He would fucking forgive them.”
I’m not sure the women in Pussy Riot require anyone’s forgiveness. Forgiveness from what? Exercising freedom of speech and artistic expression? “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine.” But Smith is fighting the good fight by appealing to what Putin and his lot can comprehend; a way out of an international public relations debacle that leaves them looking human instead of like fascist pricks. Yes, the thugs should forgive the girls and let them go. Be Christ-like. People like that.
Art and the Human Manifesto of Nadya Tolokonnikova
The punk band Pussy Riot, which I belong to, is a musical group that conducts unexpected performances in different urban spaces. Pussy Riot’s songs address topical political issues. The interests of the group members are: political activism, ecology, and the elimination of authoritarian tendencies in the Russian state system through the creation of the civil society.
Since its origin in October 2011, the band played concerts in the subway, on the roof of a trolleybus, on the roof of the detention center for administrative detainees, in clothing stores, at fashion shows, and on the Lobnoe Mesto on Red Square. We believe that the art should be accessible to everyone; therefore we perform in diverse public spaces. Pussy Riot never means to show any disrespect to any viewers or witnesses of our punk concerts. This was the case on the roof of the trolleybus and on the Lobnoe Mesto, and this was the case at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
On 21 February 2012 Pussy Riot band performed its punk prayer “Hail Mary, Expel Putin” at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. In the early March 2012 three members of the group were imprisoned because of the music and political activism. The themes of our songs and performances are dictated by the present moment. We simply react to what is happening in our country, and our punk performances express the opinion of a sufficiently large number of people. In our song “Hail Mary, Expel Putin” we reflected the reaction of many Russian citizens to the patriarch’s calls for vote for Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin during the presidential election of 4 March 2012.
We, like many of our fellow citizens, wrestle against treachery, deceit, bribery, hypocrisy, greed, and lawlessness, peculiar to the current authorities and rulers. This is why we were upset by this political initiative of the patriarch and could not fail to express that. The performance at Cathedral of Christ the Savior was committed not on the grounds of religious enmity and hatred. Equally, we harbor no hatred towards Orthodox Christians. Orthodox Christianity worships the same as we do: mercy, forgiveness, justification, love, and freedom. We are not enemies of Christianity. We care about the opinion of Orthodox Christians. We want all of them to be on our side - on the side of anti-authoritarian civil society activists. That is why we came to the Cathedral.
We came with what we have and can: with our musical performance. During this performance we intended to express our concern: the rector of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church - the patriarch - supports a politician who forcefully suppresses the civil society, which is dear to us.
I would like to emphasize the fact that, while at the Cathedral, we did not utter any insulting words towards the church, the Christians, and the God. The words we spoke and our entire punk performance aimed to express our disapproval of a specific political event: the patriarch’s support of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, who took an authoritarian and antifeminist course. Our performance contained no aggression towards the audience, but only a desperate desire to change the political situation in Russia for the better. Our emotions and expressiveness came from that desire. If our passion appeared offensive to any spectators, we are sorry for that. We had no intentions to offend anyone. We wish that those, who cannot understand us, would forgive us. Most of all, we want people to hold no grudges against us.