Pussy Riot 101 and Current Amnesty

It’s worth a watch. A group of women dressed in bright colors with neon ski masks pulled over their faces perform Russian punk on a church altar. The collective of women, otherwise known as Pussy Riot, uses music to protest the misogyny of Russian society.

On February 21, 2012, the band performed a song near the altar at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. The cathedral security service took the band members into custody. Three of the members, Nadya Tolokonnikova, Katya Samutsevich and Masha Alekhima, were convicted and imprisoned. They were not released until late December of 2013 for the following video and lyrics (translated below).

(Chorus)

St. Maria, Virgin, Drive away Putin
Drive away! Drive away Putin!
(end chorus)

Black robe, golden epaulettes
All parishioners are crawling and bowing
The ghost of freedom is in heaven
Gay pride sent to Siberia in chains

The head of the KGB is their chief saint
Leads protesters to prison under escort
In order not to offend the Holy
Women have to give birth and to love

Holy shit, shit, Lord’s shit!
Holy shit, shit, Lord’s shit!

(Chorus)
St. Maria, Virgin, become a feminist
Become a feminist, Become a feminist
(end chorus)

Church praises the rotten dictators
The cross-bearer procession of black limousines
In school you are going to meet with a teacher-preacher
Go to class – bring him money!

Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin
Bitch, you better believed in God
Belt of the Virgin is no substitute for mass-meetings
In protest of our Ever-Virgin Mary!

(Chorus)
St. Maria, Virgin, Drive away Putin
Drive away! Drive away Putin!
(end chorus)

Pussy Riot is a musical collective of about 11 women and is inspired by punk bands like Johnny Rotten and singer-songwriters like Patti Smith. In August of 2012, they held a series of musical protests about the growing restrictions that women face under the oppressive rule of Vladimir Putin. The protests have expanded to include songs about LGBT rights and to show the corruption behind countless arrests that have taken place in recent years.

The arrest was meant to silence the band but instead, it handed Pussy Riot a global fan base. Amnesty International started focusing more efforts on Russian human rights violations. A book, “Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot,” tells their story. There is even an HBO documentary that tracks the band’s journey. The list goes on.

This Wednesday, for the first time, Pussy Riot is coming to the US. Two of the members are scheduled to speak at an Amnesty International concert in Brooklyn and afterwards, the women will return to Russia and continue protesting. Having spent close to two years in prison, the pussy rioters know exactly the risk they take every time they perform and especially now that they are expanding outside of Russia. With the Olympic games scheduled to take place in Sochi, Russia later this month, they are sure to attract even more police attention when they return home.

Still, it’s the Russian government and not the band that should be worried. As they proved in 2012, locking up the rioters will never stop the riot. Pussy Riot, with its colorful ski masks and worldwide support, isn’t going anywhere.


Emma Bergman
University of Michigan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s